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The Serpent's Children

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When villagers call Cassia and her brother, Foxfire, "the serpent's children," they mean it as an insult. But to Cassia it is an honor, for legend says that once a serpent sets her mind on something, she never gives up. And in a time when famine, drought, and violence mark her family's life, Cassia has nothing less than survival to fight for. Their father is a revolutionary When villagers call Cassia and her brother, Foxfire, "the serpent's children," they mean it as an insult. But to Cassia it is an honor, for legend says that once a serpent sets her mind on something, she never gives up. And in a time when famine, drought, and violence mark her family's life, Cassia has nothing less than survival to fight for. Their father is a revolutionary, determined to free China from invaders. Foxfire, certain he'll find a mountain of gold, flees to a faraway land. Cassia will need all of her strength and wisdom to keep her family together, and to prove that she is truly the serpent's child.


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When villagers call Cassia and her brother, Foxfire, "the serpent's children," they mean it as an insult. But to Cassia it is an honor, for legend says that once a serpent sets her mind on something, she never gives up. And in a time when famine, drought, and violence mark her family's life, Cassia has nothing less than survival to fight for. Their father is a revolutionary When villagers call Cassia and her brother, Foxfire, "the serpent's children," they mean it as an insult. But to Cassia it is an honor, for legend says that once a serpent sets her mind on something, she never gives up. And in a time when famine, drought, and violence mark her family's life, Cassia has nothing less than survival to fight for. Their father is a revolutionary, determined to free China from invaders. Foxfire, certain he'll find a mountain of gold, flees to a faraway land. Cassia will need all of her strength and wisdom to keep her family together, and to prove that she is truly the serpent's child.

30 review for The Serpent's Children

  1. 4 out of 5

    Meghan

    I would give this really more like 2.5 stars. This is the first (chronologically) book of the Golden Mountain Chronicles series, following a Chinese family, the Youngs, and their subsequent generations from China to the United States. This book takes place mainly in China and is told through the eyes of a young girl. Struggling to keep her family together, her father is injured fighting the Manchus, the mother is sick, and the younger brother rather be off dreaming than facing the hard practical t I would give this really more like 2.5 stars. This is the first (chronologically) book of the Golden Mountain Chronicles series, following a Chinese family, the Youngs, and their subsequent generations from China to the United States. This book takes place mainly in China and is told through the eyes of a young girl. Struggling to keep her family together, her father is injured fighting the Manchus, the mother is sick, and the younger brother rather be off dreaming than facing the hard practical truths of their life--famine is coming and they are poor farmers. This YA book was disappointing as I had first read Dragonwings Golden Mountain Chronicles 1903, which is a Newberry Award winner. It lacked the detail of the historical background necessary to understand the point of this family's struggles. There was no information given to WHY this Chinese family was fighting the Manchus (or for that matter, who the Manchus were). A young person unfamiliar with Chinese history would not know that the Manchus were considered "outsiders" to the Chinese and it was a bitter war that was fought before they took over the throne. Rebels continued to fight the Manchus after they took control. There was also no background given to why they were against the barbarian "demons" except that the demons brought in opium. The Manchu emperor decided that the only way foreigners were allowed to buy tea and silk was if they paid in cold hard cash (silver that is). However, the English were incapable of buying the vast quantities with cash (that's not how things were normally done at this time). So what they figured out how to do was bring opium from India and sell it to the more underhanded merchants in various ports for silver. Then they could use that silver to buy the tea and silk they needed. Because people could easily get addicted to opium, there was a high demand for it, even though it was illegal. The government was unable to stop the influx of drugs in their country, unless they decided to close their harbors to all foreigners, which wasn't an option. This period was known as the Opium Wars and was a tragic time for China. I also think the writing in this book was very uneven (especially compared to Dragonwings). But the ending was interesting and if considered more of a set up for the rest of the series, the book wasn't so bad. I highly recommend Dragonwings. If you liked that book and want to learn a little of Chinese history, then I would say you should start with this book and move through the series.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Julie Akeman

    Love this first book in the series. Love learning more about the Chinese culture and this is the first book in an intergenerational saga, can't wait for more. It did make me cringe when they tried to foot bind Cassia...why do so many cultures have some way of cutting the wings of girls and women and somehow calling it a privilege..Cassia was so right in fighting against this and calling it for what it was, crippling her, other girls in her village thought foot binding was a grand thing..makes me Love this first book in the series. Love learning more about the Chinese culture and this is the first book in an intergenerational saga, can't wait for more. It did make me cringe when they tried to foot bind Cassia...why do so many cultures have some way of cutting the wings of girls and women and somehow calling it a privilege..Cassia was so right in fighting against this and calling it for what it was, crippling her, other girls in her village thought foot binding was a grand thing..makes me shiver, ever seen what the poor feet look like..google it.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Cam Luong

    A taste of Chinese heritage? Of a life different to the one I experience today? The book was a bit slow and young for me :(, those feelings are really hitting me lately. Still a worthwhile read.

  4. 5 out of 5

    QNPoohBear

    Cassia and Foxfire are two children belonging to the Young clan of Three Willows village in nineteenth century China. Their father is a revolutionary who fought the Manchus and now fights the Demons (British). Cassia is a firebrand like her father and Firefox is an idle dreamer. Like the children of the white serpent in Cassia's favorite legend, she'll fight and fight again, while Foxfire dreams of going to the Golden Mountain to free his family from poverty. The siblings do not get along but th Cassia and Foxfire are two children belonging to the Young clan of Three Willows village in nineteenth century China. Their father is a revolutionary who fought the Manchus and now fights the Demons (British). Cassia is a firebrand like her father and Firefox is an idle dreamer. Like the children of the white serpent in Cassia's favorite legend, she'll fight and fight again, while Foxfire dreams of going to the Golden Mountain to free his family from poverty. The siblings do not get along but they must learn to stick together and fight to save their family during a time of poverty caused by bandit raids, drought, rainstorms and politics. This book needs some explanation to make the plot really work. There's a lot about Chinese history that I didn't know and the author's note doesn't really explain it. If I hadn't read the last book in the series first, I would have been more confused. The plot is interesting but takes awhile to get going. The story took too long to conclude, yet I couldn't put it down. It's very heavy and depressing for a children's novel. Some of the subject matter is quite mature for the younger end of the age group (12). I really liked the fiery Cassia, yet I felt like she was not a very nice person for all she tried to be like her mother. She struggled to find herself and after she did, the plot dropped and turned into a basic summary of what was happening. I felt sorry for Foxfire. He was the most sympathetic of the main characters. My favorite character is Aster, a "stranger" who befriends Cassia's family. She's spunky, loyal and brave while still managing to be a kind person. She should have been the main character. Does anyone know how all the characters in the series are connected? I need a family tree!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Crawford

    The story takes place in 1849 in China which was, at that time, quite a different country. It's still run in a very old fashioned; the Manchus are the rulers. Foreign powers have made excursions into China. Bribery and corruption is extremely widespread, and the peasant class suffers terribly under the oppression of the various factions, which doesn't even count the danger from bandits and other clans. It's a world where the farmers are struggling just to survive, and often have a severe lack of The story takes place in 1849 in China which was, at that time, quite a different country. It's still run in a very old fashioned; the Manchus are the rulers. Foreign powers have made excursions into China. Bribery and corruption is extremely widespread, and the peasant class suffers terribly under the oppression of the various factions, which doesn't even count the danger from bandits and other clans. It's a world where the farmers are struggling just to survive, and often have a severe lack of food themselves due to the amount of their crop they must give to the landlords. The story is about a family of three; the father, Cassia and her brother. Her father believes in a revolution against the Manchus, but ends up wounded and limping. Cassia tries to take the place of her deceased mother, while her brother, Foxfire, is clumsy, impolite and a dreamer. The story is about their lives and how they hear of the “golden mountain,” the U.S., where people get rich easily and a mountain of gold is there for the taking, according to the stories. It's an excellent story of their lives and the lives of the farmer class living in China, and of how the story of the “easy riches” in the U.S. resulted in many Chinese coming to this country. Many of them, though, died on the boats coming in; many did not succeed in their quests, but those who did were able, like Foxfire, to send money back home. It's the first of the Golden Mountain Chronicles, and is well worth reading.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Estelle

    It was interesting learning about the culture and beliefs of the period, but it was a bit boring at times.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Igomigo1

    A very good story, and has a lot of Chinese traditions and belief reflected in the story.The story starts out with wonderful pride and happiness, people were happy to see their father or dad, go off to fight another clan or the demons, and then the it starts going bad. The main character is Foxfire and Cassia, living in Old China when a war between the British(demons) and them fight. Their father joins to fight, and their mom dies. Now what? They are left alone at home, with a few friends and fam A very good story, and has a lot of Chinese traditions and belief reflected in the story.The story starts out with wonderful pride and happiness, people were happy to see their father or dad, go off to fight another clan or the demons, and then the it starts going bad. The main character is Foxfire and Cassia, living in Old China when a war between the British(demons) and them fight. Their father joins to fight, and their mom dies. Now what? They are left alone at home, with a few friends and family members whom will betray them. Like their aunt who tries to bind Cassia's feet. Then, the whole clan goes against them, and every person betrays to what they believe. What would you do? Try to steal someone's plant crops, Try to kill, Try to run away from the only home you have, Try to run off to America? Suspense is waiting for you in this very good book. P.S: Cassia is the big sister and will act like one between Foxfire, who is the young brother.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Thea

    This book is very interesting. It is the first in a series about the Young family on their 'beginnings' in China, and continues through their migration to the America's. I learned a lot about Chinese culture and beliefs, and what led the Chinese to come to america in search of gold. This story will have you crying, laughing and shaking your fist at the villains. All in all a great book- really got me into the series. This book is very interesting. It is the first in a series about the Young family on their 'beginnings' in China, and continues through their migration to the America's. I learned a lot about Chinese culture and beliefs, and what led the Chinese to come to america in search of gold. This story will have you crying, laughing and shaking your fist at the villains. All in all a great book- really got me into the series.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Arthur

    This book mixes history and fiction together. I was interested by the term 'The land of the golden mountain" which is really San Francisco. This book takes place in china were a girl's father goes to caton china to fight in a war. Then when her mother dies she must take care of her brother and survive through war,drought and crazy neighbors this is a very good book. This book mixes history and fiction together. I was interested by the term 'The land of the golden mountain" which is really San Francisco. This book takes place in china were a girl's father goes to caton china to fight in a war. Then when her mother dies she must take care of her brother and survive through war,drought and crazy neighbors this is a very good book.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sue

    This is the first volume in the Golden Mountain Chronicles series. I had previously read "Dragon's Gate", so it was interesting to see the beginning of the story and how Foxfire ends up going to America and what happens to Cassia as she stays in Three Willows. I find these books very historically accurate with interesting characters. This is the first volume in the Golden Mountain Chronicles series. I had previously read "Dragon's Gate", so it was interesting to see the beginning of the story and how Foxfire ends up going to America and what happens to Cassia as she stays in Three Willows. I find these books very historically accurate with interesting characters.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Amie Doughty

    While Dragonwings was a better novel in many ways, I enjoyed this book a lot as well. The narrative structure and how Yep presents a non-Western point of view is excellent.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Mckinley

    This one is set in China.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ruth

    Good story. I like the characters. It made me think and do some self-evaluation. I'm excited to read the whole series! Good story. I like the characters. It made me think and do some self-evaluation. I'm excited to read the whole series!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Roshni

    Didn't really like this book. The plot was not very engaging and the situations that the main character, Cassia, faces are not emotionlly tied to the audience. Didn't really like this book. The plot was not very engaging and the situations that the main character, Cassia, faces are not emotionlly tied to the audience.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Caroline

  16. 4 out of 5

    Breanna

  17. 5 out of 5

    Louise Buxton

  18. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

  19. 5 out of 5

    Caitlin

  20. 5 out of 5

    Trish

  21. 4 out of 5

    Erin Morris

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kayla

  23. 4 out of 5

    Christine Sturniolo

  24. 5 out of 5

    Laura Sílvia

  25. 5 out of 5

    Anamuan

  26. 4 out of 5

    QBlack

  27. 4 out of 5

    Benny Mootz

  28. 4 out of 5

    Noreen Joy

  29. 5 out of 5

    Boyuan

  30. 4 out of 5

    MiracleW34

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