Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Lee (the Sidekick Squad series) elegantly situates Robert Louis Stevenson's 1882 Treasure Island against a richly embroidered Qing dynasty backdrop in this carefully crafted queer interpretation. It's 1826, and Shi Xiang, 16, hopes her cold, seldom-around merchant mother will allow Xiang to leave the quiet village she was raised in for the big city of Canton. While ambitious, curious Xiang hopes to explore the city's abundance and learn the ropes of her mother's bustling teahouse and merchant business, her mother prefers a safe, domestic life for her. But after spending a magical day in Canton with quick-fingered Hoa Ngọc Anh, a 17-year-old Vietnamese sailor, Xiang wants more. When Anh steals Xiang's gold pendant--the only memento Xiang has of her father, who was lost at sea--and a fire threatens the teahouse, Xiang is set to be sent home. But then Anh returns, and a secret the pendant holds changes everything. Inspired by female pirate Zheng Yi Sao, this deeply immersive adventure features deftly interwoven Chinese and Vietnamese, luscious culinary descriptions, and well-rendered explorations of imperialism, treasure, found family, and love. Back matter includes an author's note, language notes, a pronunciation guide, historical notes, and recommended reading. Ages 13--up. Agent: Thao Le, Sandra Dijkstra Literary. (Sept.)
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Review by School Library Journal Review
Gr 9 Up--It's 1826 and Xiang dreams of leaving her small village on the river. She lives and breathes the stories of distant lands filled with music, food, and adventure. She wants to experience it all, but her mother, a successful merchant who is often away at sea, wants Xiang to remain safe in the village. When Xiang finally convinces her mother to let her go to Canton, she meets Anh, a young woman who steals the pendant Xiang always wears around her neck. It was the only thing left from her father, who died before she was born. Anh returns it to Xiang explaining that the pendant hid a map with a secret code to a hidden pirate treasure. Xiang realizes her father must have been a part of the Dragon Fleet, pirates who used to roam the seas led by the Head of the Dragon, Zheng Yi Sao. She hid the treasure and went into hiding after the Dragon Fleet was disbanded. Xiang joins Anh's ship, which is run by a motley crew who grow to feel like family. In this work inspired by but also completely unique from Treasure Island, Lee introduces readers to an enthralling adventure story filled with twists and turns. Xiang and Anh have very different life experiences and their blossoming relationship will keep readers invested and engaged. The well-researched narrative with vivid descriptions of food, clothing, and markets of the era will transport readers. VERDICT A great addition to all libraries.--Kristyn Dorfman, Friends Academy, Locust Valley, NY
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