White Jade Tiger ( Ages 9+ )
By ; Julie Lawson
Publisher : Dundurn Books ( January 2017 )
White Jade Tiger was first published in 1993 and was the winner of the Sheila E. Egoff Children`s Literature Award. The book reveals the early Chinese immigrants` influence on Canadian history and how poorly they were treated in the past. But it is a lot more than a historical fiction cum fantasy; it`s a book that`s brimming with wonderful literary elements, written in flowing prose and gripping to the end with an exciting story plot.
The story encompasses two centuries through time traveling - as two thirteen years old youngsters, Jasmine living in Canada during the modern times and Keung from rural China living in the eighteen-hundreds, are first connected through their dreams. They dream about each other and the long lost White Jade Tiger. According to Chinese legend, if the owner who possesses the white jade loses it, her entire generation would be cursed. Keung believes that his family and his whole village are cursed. And his mysterious dreams hint at him about the lost White Jade Tiger`s whereabouts. Keung decides to travel across the seas in search of the White Jade Tiger. Meanwhile in alternate chapters we get to read about Jasmine, the protagonist. Her dreams start after her mother`s accidental death. Then while touring in the China town at a shop called " the never ending shop" she steps out through a mysterious door into the eighteen-hundreds in British Colombia. Jasmine meets her match there, Keung. Together they embark on an adventure to find the lost White Jade Tiger...........
Deftly written text oozes with beautiful prose and compelling dialog. The story is presented in different levels that would carry different atmospheres and are helpful in understanding the characters. Through Victoria, BC & China town in Victoria in the nineties and rural China in the eighteen hundreds to the Victoria`s China town in the eighteen-hundreds are brought to life with beautifully portrayed settings and a vivid array of characters. Mirrored through them are the greed and racism that existed during that era. Nevertheless, it`s an adventure and a fantasy that would keep the young readers on edge until the last page.
However as I continued reading, I felt as if the whole story is being depicted by Jasmine`s making of her quilt in the early chapters. It`s "a memory quilt, her mother had said when she started the project / Every bit of fabric will remind you of something / a time or a place or a person......."
Later after the sudden death of her mother her, father explains about Jasmine to her aunt and Jasmine eavesdrops
" That`s all she wants to do / It was true / She felt safe / Leafing through the fragments of her past / As if putting the pieces together would bring back something that was gone / make her feel whole again.............."
The story line-up, as intriguing as it is, would make the readers feel like sorting out patchwork pieces for a quilt; connecting a piece by piece into a perfectly co-ordinated quilt. A wonderful creation that would remain in our memories long after reading it!
( With many thanks to Dundurn Books and NetGally for the ARC )