Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze by Elizabeth Foreman Lewis

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Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze Summary

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Although many things have changed on both the cultural and political fronts in China since this book was written, Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze remains a good introduction to the ancient and venerable civilization of The Middle Kingdom." In her acceptance remarks for the 1933 Newbery Medal, Lewis said that she had "chronicled, rather than created" the lives of the characters in her novel. Good literature typically addresses questions of character and morality in a way that is timeless and universal, in a way that speaks to the human heart and the human condition everywhere. But good fiction also creates memorable, individualized characters, something that Lewis does admirably in Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze.

With its fast-paced action and adventure episodes, the novel also offers the fundamental pleasures of good fiction. Young Fu grows as a character as he deals with fire, floods, and bandits. Above all, the story presents solid, well-rounded characters who embody the values upon which the work is founded. Lewis does not preach these values; rather, she portrays Young Fu acquiring them through experience and through his relationship with the master craftsman Tang. Such qualities as courage, honor, dignity, truthfulness, generosity, compassion, and persistence are shown to be essential to anyone who truly wishes to mature beyond the apprentice phases of learning.