Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

The Fire Horse Girl

The Fire Horse Girl

Spring 2013 Fiction
Ages: 12 & Up
Author: Kay Honeyman
Publisher: Scholastic
ISBN: 978-0-545-40310-8
Hardcover Price: $17.99

"Oppositional" doesn't begin to describe Jade Moon. In the Chinese zodiac, each year is assigned one of twelve animals plus one of five elements. Jade Moon was born in the year of the Fire Horse, which only comes around every sixty years. It is considered a dreadful year for girls to be born. They are destined to bring tragedy to their families. Not only is seventeen-year-old Jade Moon naturally stubborn and difficult, the reactions of everyone in her rural village only exacerbate her tendencies. Only Nushi, the family servant who raised Jade Moon after her mother died giving birth to her, recognizes her intelligence, goodness, and strength of character.

Destined to marry poor, her fortune changes when a stranger, Sterling Promise, visits her father and grandfather offering to take her father to "Gold Mountain," as the Chinese called the United States. Sterling Promise most reluctantly agrees that Jade Moon can accompany them. She senses that there is more to this agreement than she is told, but she is thrilled at a chance for adventure—and adventure she has.

Traveling to America in the 1940s, Jade Moon is imprisoned on Angel Island along with other Chinese women who are being held there under guard for months and sometimes years. Finally, she escapes to San Francisco disguised as a boy and becomes, as a "fire horse man," the protégé of the leader of one of the Chinese gangs known as tongs.

This is a stellar story with a formidable protagonist, who, while being her own worst enemy, proves to be a noble friend to others— with the exception of Sterling Promise.

Kemie Nix   ©2013 Parents' Choice
Kemie Nix is Chairman of Children's Literature for Children (CLC), a non-profit, tax-exempt, educational organization dedicated to bringing children and books together. Mrs. Nix, a senior book editor for Parents' Choice, has a remarkable sense of selecting books children love to read.

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