Young adults, mainly those just becoming teenagers, love adventure. If it is done well, the child can learn much about geography, history, cultures, and other areas without even knowing it. I found this to be true with Hildi Kangís Chengli and the Silk Road Caravan.
The gist of the story is of a young orphan that has turned thirteen years old and wants to know more about his father who was a royal inspector. He was killed by desert bandits when Chengli was just a child. As he feels the desert calling to him, he announces that he wants to know more about his father and find the people who really knew him. To do this he has to join a caravan that is to travel the Silk Road.
In this journey, Chengli meets new friends, betrayal, near death, respect, and many adventures. He learns how it feels to find out that a friend is really an enemy and how an supposed enemy can become the closest of friends. He discovers new cultures outside his Middle Kingdom China. He learns to be a man.
There are several things I loved in this book. First, it is realistic in how friends are formed. There are many times, especially as teenagers but also as adults, where we think we have found a true friend only to discover that they will betray and malign us at the first chance they get. Second, it shows how first impressions are not always the right ones. They might be for that moment, but they donít allow for people to change and grow. Chengli finds both of these out the emotionally painful way.
It all comes down to being a story about a young boy who becomes a man and the many lives that are affected by his decision to join a caravan. He gets so much more than he bargained for including a future that many during the time would never see.
The only thing that I was disappointed in is that there are no chapters in this book. It is a 200 page book with only a few breaks shown by extra spacing. It made it hard for me to really know where good pauses were and to find a reference later which I can usually tell by chapter number or names.
This will make a great gift for a young teenager or almost teenager. It teaches about the various cultures of the time, geography, and little history as well as many ethical situations that teach how a grown man really should act no matter how old he maybe.
I highly recommend reading this book and sharing it with a young person in your life.
Note: This book was provided to me by the publisher upon my request.