Fine Books on Asia
The Boat Girl and the Magic Fish
Village East Books
303 pp. Paperback Original
(Click here to order)
The first in a series of children's books by China expert, Dean Barrett.
The Boat Girl and the Magic Fish is a tender introduction to one of the lifestyles that has long identified Hong Kong as a place unique in the world.
Kum-choi, a boat girl who has grown up on a Chinese junk at sea, must join in the progress of her people and go ashore to school. There she experiences the shock of seagoing fisherfolk as they resettle on shore to learn new ways that will forever separate them from the old ways they know and love.
The sea gypsies' junks and butterfly-wind sails are disappearing and a time-honored way of life is passing. But Kum-choi has a friend–the Magic Fish–to whom she can beckon for help in her saddest times. With the help of the Magic Fish, Kum-choi heroically uses her knowledge of the sea to save her schoolmates and in so doing rediscovers herself and her heritage. She cannot again give up the sea and elects instead to stand forever at the shoreline, a kink of goddess for the fisherfolk who must come ashore while still looking back for their roots and the gentle sway of a boat in the ocean.
The Boat Girl and the Magic Fish is truly a fairy tale of Hong Kong.