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Chengli and the Silk Road Caravan

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Chengli works for a local silk merchant when he decides that it is time to leave the comfort of the only home he has known to journey out into the desert in search of learning about his father who he never knew. He obtains work on a caravan that is also escorting a rather obnoxious young princess. The days are long and tiring and when the caravan is attacked many lives are lost as well as the princess’s dowry. The caravan forges on but Chengli learns that a thief should never be trusted and finds himself accused of the most terrible crime that carries a death sentence and he is left to wonder if he will ever know the full story of his father.

It’s sometimes difficult find books suitable for middle grades that aren’t overly long, boring, too-girly, too-boyish…you get the picture. What I liked about this book is that you do get a sentence of China, the climate and the hard way of life working on the caravans of the Silk Road.

In many ways the author could have chosen to make this a “happy” story filled with cliches and that “tied up with a pretty bow” ending. I am very pleased the author has chosen to go with a more balanced approach to storytelling. Yes, poor Chengli does have more than his fair share of bad luck and impossible situations but at the end of the day the story is focusing towards the ending and keeping the theme of Chengli learning about his father alive throughout.

There is definitely character development for Chengli. He goes from being a rather passive, skinny boy – to one who rides horses, learns another language, and stands up for himself when needed. The princess, Meiling, does grow from a whiny girl to a girl who knows her duty and purpose.
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This book follows an orphaned boy named Chengli as he works on a caravan traveling the silk road while he searches for information about his father. This story is great. I am definitely going to pass it along to my 2 sons and mention it to our school librarian. I hadn't noticed that it was originally published in 2011 so I was surprised that I didn't know about this book already. I think many kids who want to learn about other cultures or who have a sense of adventure will really enjoy this book.
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We don't hear much about the Silk Road, at least not recently. This historical story provides engaging thought for the reader.
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Life in Chang'an, the capitol of China, is all that Chengli has ever known. A 13 year old boy, raised by a woman called Old Cook, Chengli's mother is just a memory, and stories of his father are all he has. His father is said to have been an inspector governor general who worked in the far east. Since he has been small, Chengli has felt the call of the wind and wanted to go east. At 13, he left his work for the silk merchant, and was able to sign up as an animal herder with the caravan of Master Fong, whose good reputation carrying silks on the Silk Road earns him the responsibility of transporting Princess Meiling to Kashgar to wed King Galdan, ruler of a nomad kingdom north of Kashgar. Chengli sets out to find his father with only a broken piece of jade as a clue. Travelling across the Silk Road by foot was no piece of cake, but Chengli falls into a rhythm of leading and caring for the camels he leads. However, as much as Chengli would like to have a quiet journey to Kashgar and find his father, that wouldn't be much of an adventure would it? If you want to know what happens and what brave and courageous things Chengli does, you'll just have to pick up the book and read it.

Chengli and the Silk Road Caravan is great middle grade fiction. The story line is engaging, and the characters are lovable. As someone who has studied Chinese culture and currents lives among the Chinese people, Hildi Kang's portrayal of the Chinese culture and the people rings true. Students who read this book can learn about the culture and times of ancient China as well as be entertained by a great adventure. 

Thank you so much to Tanglewood Publishing and NetGalley for an electronic copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions above are my own.
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Chengli, a Chinese orphan, feels called by a spirit wind to join a caravan along the Silk Road.  He longs to learn about his father who once traveled the trade route as an imperial inspector.  When the caravan Chengli joins is chosen to convey a princess to her future husband at the other end of the Silk Road, their months-long journey through new lands filled with adventure soon begins.  Throughout the journey, Chengli learns new things about himself, his father, and the world beyond The Great Wall. 



This book is very well researched and readers will learn a great deal about China during the Tang Dynasty, and its neighboring trade partners along the Silk Road.  The geography of each region presented is described well, and new vocabulary is introduced in a seamless way.  The story becomes truly exciting about two-thirds of the way through, and young readers will enjoy the action sequences near the end of the story, especially.  In addition, the story begins quickly, with Chengli choosing immediately to begin his journey.  However, some of the early stages of the journey may fail to hold reader's attention. 



Chengli's character develops somewhat during the story, but not with the level of depth one would expect.  Most other characters do not show any development, and the book is probably not long enough to support much depth of character development.  I would have liked to grow more attached to these characters. 



All told, while I enjoyed Chengli and the Silk Road Caravan, it feels like it was written primarily to teach about the geography of this region of Asia and that the story was an afterthought.
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Thank you Netgalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review. I thought that this was an interesting book that shed light on what life was like in ancient China and on the Silk Road. Chenglii was an interesting character and I enjoyed reading about his and the princess's friendship on their journey.
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I picked this out because it looked like the kind of book I could learn a whole lot from. I was obsessed with <i>Daughter of the Mountains</i> for a while as a kid, and hoped that <i>Chengli and the Silk Road Caravan</i> would provide a similar vibrant, multi-faceted exploration of long-ago places and customs.<br>
<br>
The premise is somewhat similar -- Chengli leaves the only place he has ever known in search of his father, rather than a stolen dog -- but the journey along the Silk Road holds plenty of interest. <i>Chengli</i> would have needed a little more detail, a little slower pace, and more heart to be just as good as <i>Daughter of the Mountains</i>, but I still wholly enjoyed it!
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Title: Chengli and the Silk Road Caravan

Author: Hildi Kang 

Genre: Kids/Middle Grade, Historical Fiction



A few starting notes:



I received a free digital review copy of this book via NetGalley. NetGalley provides review copies from publishers in exchange for fair and honest reviews.




If any Asian reviewers - particularly Chinese reviewers, or reviewers of Chinese ethnicity - have written about this book, please let me know, I'd love to link.



Premise:



Save the princess, save the caravan.

OK, so little Chengli figured he'd go to the desert and find some info about his mysterious daddy, an imperial inspector who died years ago.

Turns out the trading caravan he's attached to also has to take an imperial princess to her wedding. And princesses are tricky things to keep safe...



Best bits:



Oh dudes, this book is so fun! 

This is a rip-roaring, adventure-filled, ride on camels across China's historic silk road. 

You know the kids books you loved when you were a wee one? This book is like those. It's fab!



The characters are pretty good - especially Chengli himself, and the princess, who has her own development throughout the book.

Chengli is also so earnest and sweet! :) As a reader, you're really gonna be on his side!




Well researched

Hildi Kang is a scholar of Asian History. 

Though she specialises in Korea, it's clear that she knows her stuff and is able to bring that knowledge to the book.

This book was also the recipient of the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature in 2012 (and I'm assuming that organisation knows much more about Asian history than I do!)


Not so great bits:



Not too much distressing content here but there are a few things:

- being orphaned/parental death
- child marriage
- murder
- violence
- threat of execution
- general danger




I honestly don't remember whether there was any ableist language in this one (crazy, etc.) 

If this is something that bothers you, I think your odds are about 50/50.




This book has moments of slow plot development which may irritate some people - I'm thinking some kids may get SUPER frustrated!






These guards are cr*p as hell!

Like dudes, you had ONE job! Get the princess from point A, to point B. But no, the small child has to step up and do it.

Honestly, Dumbledore (that known bestower of responsibility on children's shoulders) would be proud.

Verdict:



Really fun! So much the fun! XD

I really enjoyed this one - and I think a lot of other people will too! :)
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I've read about the well-known Silk Road of China in a memoir before; so I know a little something about it. Because I'm already familiar about the setting, I thought that I could finish this book quickly; but the story is quite long that made it hard to finish it. Don't get me wrong, I like the plot of the story, climax and some of the characters, yes even Princess Meiling was a likable character after all. But despite of that, I had a great time reading this and I'm sure that young readers would also love it.
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I adored the setting of the novel - it's about a young Chinese boy who joins a caravan, in hopes of finding more information about his father. I liked the descriptions of the surroundings and the cultural element that was strongly present and evident in e.g. instances when Chengli talks to anyone older or superior to him. There's also a glossary and a couple of historical poems at the end of the book.

As for the plot, it progresses quickly, as is to be expected of a book of 200 pages. Chengli's motives are clear, and there are enough twists to keep the reader interested. I was a bit confused when an event that I expected to be a minor detour ended up almost the whole second part of the book, therefore pushing Chengli's search for his father into the background.

The character development of the secondary characters differed: the princess, I think, was handled well, whereas Fourth Brother could have been executed in a better way. But overall, it's an engaging book that offers an insight into the life of commoners and royalty in Imperial China.
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A look into a fascinating, and under-written, time period in history, from the POV of a teenager who's looking for his father along the Silk Road. Great YA book for school project or personal learning.
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I read this in one day. I found the story interesting but I kept hoping he would fine his father, I wanted that to be the unexpected twist in the story. I thought maybe one of the magistrates in the far west would turn out to be his father. I did find it compelling that he remained true to his morals in order to honor his memory of his father.
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I really enjoyed this book. Well written and I loved the characters. I love the way that the places can be mapped therefore when using as a teaching resource you can really bring the story to life. 
Enjoyable for both children and adults.
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I have always been fascinated with the Silk Road. In fact, it's part of my bucket list. I dream to one day walk, maybe just a part of the long stretch of the Silk Road and feel how it was like in its glorious days. Caravans and a mix of various cultures utilizing the Silk Road as a way to journey into other parts of Asia, the Middle East and parts of Europe. It's the traveler in me that is so drawn to this famous and fabled highway.

This book is about a caravan on the Silk Road. Yes, that magic word--Silk Road got me to sign up for this book. And I am glad I did because this was a very good story. This was an adventure I would not want to miss. This was as close as I can get to be on the Silk Road.

As obvious as in the title, the main character is named Chengli. A young Chinese boy of thirteen. A son of an Imperial Inspector whom he never got to know. Chengli, just like I am, was so drawn to the desert where his father traveled and did his work. The wind is like calling him and asking him to go and find his father. The vast desert is waiting for him. The call was so persistent that he can no longer ignore it and he finally summoned its call. Hence, the adventures of Chengli with the caravan across the great Gobi Desert and along the Silk Road started.

This story was a good and easy fix to my long dream of exploring the famous Silk Road. Yet, the effects are lasting. A very well-written adventure with all the sights, sounds and colors of a large caravan traversing the fabled stretch of this desert route. I was treated to an amazing scene. A satisfying journey and a very touching story of a young boy hoping to find a piece of himself that he lost in the hot and cruel sands of the desert. This is like a coming-of-age story of Chengli. Finding his heritage and knowing the father he never get to meet. A story of a boy, almost but not yet quite a man, heading the call of the desert wind to come and find the answers to his questions about his family. And he did get his answers.

I give this story 5/5 Bactrian camels in the Gobi Desert. Chengli's grand adventure of a lifetime was also a great Silk Road experience for me. I was transported to the picturesque villages dotting the Silk Road. Everything was described in detail that I was able to picture myself right there with Chengli keeping the donkeys and camels in line. It was like I was there in the market too, looking for wares that hit my fancy. This was a very entertaining and touching story for all ages. A fantastic read.

If you take from someone a thing they took from someone else...are you stealing...or rescuing it to give it back?
- Hildi Kang, Chengli and the Silk Road Caravan - 

Thank you again, Netgalley for the copy.
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Chengli and the Silk Road Caravan by Hildi Kang is a story about a young boy taunted by a desert wind. The wind is a painful reminder of his father's disappearance at the hands of desert bandits on the silk road. During infancy Chengli's mother discovers she is ill and travels to Chang'an leaving him to the woman referred to Old Cook and the only person who cares about him. Chengli is now thirteen, ready to join a caravan and find out what really happened to his father with the hope that he is still alive.
This story takes place long ago when the only type of transportation was by caravan, camels, horses, donkey or just on foot. Chengli quickly begins to experience the harsh conditions while traveling with the caravan.  At times he complains to himself about his sore feet, sore arms and the constant rain, making it hard to walk. On his journey from city to city he finds within his caravan enemies and unexpected friendships.
Kang's story depicts what life on the silk road must have been like. Among the dangers there was also the uncomfortable feel of the desert grit and dust clinging to skin and clothes. Definitely an interesting young adult fiction book for reader's that love to research and ponder what life was like long ago.

I received this book in exchange for an honest review through NetGalley.
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Chengli and the Silk Road Caravan

by Hildi Kang

Tanglewood
Children’s Fiction , Middle Grade

Pub Date 14 Oct 2011

I am voluntarily reviewing a copy of Chengli and the Silk Road Caravan through Tanglewood Publishers and Netgalley:

Chengli lives in China in the 630’s.  From the time he was little he worked for cha’aan’s wealthiest Merchant now that he is older he and his friend are trusted to sale Merchandise at the market.  But Chengli hears the Desert calling him.

Soon Chengli finds himself on a Caravan headed to take the princess to meet her betroved.  Chengli is injured while with the Caravan, the pain so bad he feared he would never walk again.

I give Chengli and the Silk Road Caravan five out of five stars.

Happy Reading
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This is the story of Cheng Li, a boy trying to survive on his two feet due to some circumstances. 
Unfortunately, this book does not hold my interest after 50+ pages, so I decided not to finish it.
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Chengli hears a wind that isn't there. A wind that calls him from his native city into the wild and into the workforce of a caravan leading to the other side of China. Having been orphaned at a very young age Chengli decides that the wind is calling him to learn more about what happened to his father. Along the way he learns that his father left a legacy and this legacy is something that Chengli must strive to honor and uphold. 

Fighting off thieves among him, saving a princess and learning to ride a horse are just a few of the things that Chengli must face while learning about his father and making the journey across the desert. He must also learn what is right and how to stand for it. 

This was a great historical fiction about a young boy growing and learning in ancient China. It ends a little differently than I wish that it would, but that's how things happen in real life, right? Sometimes the good, valiant young man doesn't get the princess or the future his father would have wanted for him.
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I love historical fantasy, and I loved the feeling of this book. It's like I stepped into the past and traveled with Chengli on his journey. I highly recommend.
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