When ten-year-old Ying hears that you can buy sparkling beads in Canton and also see kwailos -- Caucasian people -- she is determined to go there. Her very own lichee tree is just about to bear its first fruit, and she guards it carefully, knowing that the precious fruit will be worth a great deal. But trouble haunts her family when a powerful man decides he wants to marry Ying's cousin. Ying is swept into a dramatic circle of events, and her own personal dream of going to Canton falls aside as her concerns shift to helping her family in a time of crisis. Building on the characters and events of the author's two previous books (First Apple and Water Ghost), the story is both gripping and suspenseful.
As usual, Ying demonstrates her uncensored, high level of energy and determination and finds her way into and out of fixes throughout the book. Ying's grandmother, Ah Pau, keeps reminding Ying that no matter how bad things get, there will always be a turning point. The author draws once again on her own childhood in China, bringing tremendous authenticity to both setting and story.