Saturday, October 8, 2011

Chengli and the Silk Road Caravan by Hildi Kang

Chengli is an orphaned errand boy who lives in Chang’anChina in 630 A.D.  He's grown up working for a silk merchant and being raised by the merchant's cook.  His mother has died and his father has been gone so long he's assumed dead, also.  But the wind keeps calling him...

Tanglewood and Net Galley shared a copy of this ebook with me (thank you).  It will be published on the 14th of this month, so you can get a copy at your local bookstore soon.

Chengli has always felt the wind, even when others don't.  It wisps across him, talking to him about the great outside world with deserts and cities he's never seen before.  When he turns thirteen, he's determined to go.  The cook hates to see him go, but can tell it's important to him.  She gives him the only gift left for him from his father: a piece of jade with some writing on it.

The caravan merchant almost doesn't hire him because of his age and size but when the caravan is chosen to escort the princess to her new husband, he gets the job.  And is assigned to watch the princess and ensure her needs are met.  No small task, let me tell you.

The author does an excellent job of describing the journey across the desert.  It's mainly by foot.  It takes months.  Water and food can become a scarce commodity between stops.  And there are the dangers of nature and the horsemen who steal.

The story has a taste of almost magic since the wind talks to Chengli.  The story is of a boy's search for his father (even proof of his death) and his adventures on the way.  The princess even ends up with a few adventures of her own.

This was a very enjoyable read filled tales of how it was back in that era.  Young adult readers won't be bored, there's plenty of action.  And they will soon find themselves hoping Chengli can find someone who knew his father.  

Happy reading.

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