"I can't remember when Barney's story began but all my life I'd heard this story about how a little girl and her father were going to hit it big one of these days....I knew more about race horses than I knew about myself -- I mean myself as a Chinese."
Race horses aren't any help when Barney lands in the hospital and Casey is sent to live with Paw-Paw -- her maternal grandmother-in San Francisco's Chinatown. She's not prepared for the Chinese school, the crowds, the noise, the small room she has to share with Paw-Paw -- and she's not prepared for missing Barney.
But Paw-Paw tells Casey about Jeanie, the mother Casey never knew, about her true Chinese name, and about the story of the family's owl charm. This shows Casey that being a child of the owl means that sometimes, like this ancestral owl spirit, you can feel like a stranger, trapped in the wrong place, in the wrong time, even in the wrong body. And as Casey begins to understand the intricacies of Chinatown and the people who become her friends, she realizes that this, Paw-Paw's home, Jeanie and Barney's home, is her home too.
Laurence Yep's fine novel illuminates a rich world of truth, humor, and discovery.`San Francisco's Chinatown of the early '60s is the testing ground for [12-year-old] Casey who, in finding her roots, forfeits her faith in her compulsive gambler father.' SLJ. `Combines the chiseled fantasy of Dragonwings with the anxiety of growing up poor and nonwhite.' K.
Notable Children's Books of 1977 (ALA)
1977 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Fiction
1978 Fanfare Honor List (The Horn Book)
Best Books of 1977 (SLJ)
1978 Jane Addams Children's Book Award
Children's Books of 1977 (Library of Congress)