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Landed    by Milly Lee & Yangsook Choi order for
by Milly Lee
Order:  USA  Can
Farrar Straus & Giroux, 2006 (2006)

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Daninhirsch

This heartwarming book - based on the experiences of the author's father-in-law - tells the story of twelve-year old Sun, who is planning to go with his father to America. Sun and his family live in China, and his father travels to America regularly to do business. First, though, Sun must be tutored by Mr. Chan so that he will know all the answers to the questions he will face at Angel Island in California. Some of the information he must learn is basic, such as detailed facts about his home, his family and his village. However, he has to know the information perfectly or he faces the possibility of being detained. He even has to count and memorize the exact number of steps between his home and his school.

After the long boat ride to America, Sun and his father separate; his father is a returning merchant and is allowed to disembark without being subject to the rigorous interrogation proceedings. Sun is detained at Angel Island for weeks before he even has the opportunity to be interviewed, but, due to nervousness, he forgets some of the answers to the questions he has studied. Eventually, though, it is proclaimed that he has landed, and he happily sets forth to meet his waiting father.

The historical setting for this book is China in the late 1800s or early 1900s. At that time, many immigrants were swarming into the United States, and in particular, to San Francisco, during the gold rush era. To control the influx, strict immigration laws were passed. One such discriminatory law was called the Chinese Exclusion Act, passed in 1882, which served to limit the number of Chinese immigrants by making them take a difficult test before they were granted entrance into the country. Some immigrants had tried to sneak into the country, claiming to be sons of returning merchants; these people were called paper sons.

This wonderfully informative children's picture book is geared toward an older child, both because of the mature subject matter and because of the length of the book. The watercolor illustrations, done in muted shades of browns and greens, are a nice accompaniment to the text.

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