Through the eyes of the ever curious Leon Woo, America is a play of both dazzling light and layered shadows.”

Conrad Wesselhoeft, author of Dirt Bikes, Drones, and Other Ways to Fly

The Forbidden Temptation of Baseball

For her newest book, The Forbidden Temptation of Baseball, Dori Jones Yang researched the 1870s Chinese Educational Mission to the United States. Fascinated by the image of Chinese boys with Manchu-required queues playing baseball in small New England towns, Yang wrote this novel to help American kids understand what it’s like for foreigners to adapt to life in the United States.

AWARDS

2018 Washington State Book Awards finalist

2017 Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards: Gold Award, Pre-Teen Fiction – Historical/Cultural

2017 USA Best Book Award Winner in Children’s Fiction

2017 Freeman Book Awards Winner in Young Adult―High School

2018 IPPY Gold Medal Winner in Multicultural Fiction – Juvenile–Young Adult

2018 Foreword Indies Finalist in Children’s―Juvenile Fiction

2018 IBPA Ben Franklin Awards Finalist in Young Reader: Fiction

2017-2018 Reader Views Literary Award in Children―Teen Age 12 to 16

It is 1875. Imagine you are an 11-year-old Chinese boy who has been sent to the United States by your government to gain an American education.

A Chinese boy struggles to adapt to American life–and discovers baseball. Despite his impulsive and curious nature, twelve-year-old Leon is determined to follow the Emperor’s rules―to live with an American family, study hard, and return home to modernize China. But he also must keep the braid that shows his loyalty―and resist such forbidden American temptations as baseball. As Leon overcomes teasing and makes friends, his elder brother becomes increasingly alienated. Eventually, Leon faces a tough decision, torn between his loyalty to his birth country―and his growing love for his new home. 

The Forbidden Temptation of Baseball is a lively, poignant, and nuanced novel based on a little-known episode from history, when 120 boys were sent to New England by the Emperor of China in the 1870s. This story dramatizes both the rigid expectations and the wrenching alienation felt by many foreign children in America today―and richly captures that tension between love and hate that is culture shock. It gives American readers a glimpse into what it feels like to be a foreigner in the United States and will spark thoughtful discussions.

Read a Short Excerpt

“Do you understand English?” asked one boy in a polite tone. He stood apart from the group crowded around Leon.

   Leon was just about to answer, “A little,” when he felt a tug at the back of his neck. He swung around. A boy named Johnny had Leon’s braid in his hand. With his other hand, Johnny pushed Leon so he turned in a full circle. Leon’s hands flew to his neck, his braid wrapped tightly around it. He gagged. Aaiya!

   “Chinee boy no talkee,” Johnny said in a mocking voice.

You’ll be drawn in by the absorbing history (which is little-known but true) but stay for the characters

“A smart, authentic, and engaging look at the Chinese experience in America through the eyes of an adventurous and loyal boy who journeys into the sometimes welcoming, often hostile environment that was nineteenth-century America. You’ll be drawn in by the absorbing history (which is little-known but true) but stay for the characters―and the story that brings them to life.”

David Patneaude, author of Thin Wood Walls

Completely modern and relevant today

“Although the book takes place in 1876, the conflicts and issues raised are completely modern and relevant today as communities wrestle with the integration of traditional values and changes in technology, job requirements, and evolving social mores. As Dori Jones Yang brings these characters to life, they spark lots of thought-provoking questions – fantastic for school or home.” 

Nancy Kennan, mother of a middle schooler, avid reader of historical fiction, and investment banker in New York City

Turns our assumptions upside down.

The Forbidden Temptation of Baseball turns our assumptions of America, and the Chinese impact on our history, upside down. A riveting and revealing story for the ages.” 

Conrad Wesselhoeft, author of Dirt Bikes, Drones, and Other Ways to Fly

In this powerful novel, Dori Jones Yang explores cultural differences and ways of responding to them.

“It is 1875. Imagine you are an 11-year-old Chinese boy who has been sent to the United States by your government to gain an American education. You encounter strange customs, confusing values, and many new ways to get into trouble. In this powerful novel, Dori Jones Yang explores cultural differences and ways of responding to them. Her deep insights and the compelling plot make this a book students will enjoy and then recall as they face cross-cultural experiences of their own.”

Mary Hammond Bernson, Director, East Asia Resource Center, University of Washington

This well-written historical novel is filled with intriguing details about Chinese and American customs

“This well-written historical novel is filled with intriguing details about Chinese and American customs and lifestyles of the era. The boys’ experiences are both timely and timeless in Yang’s deft hands.”

VOYA Magazine

You’ll be drawn in by the absorbing history (which is little-known but true) but stay for the characters

“A smart, authentic, and engaging look at the Chinese experience in America through the eyes of an adventurous and loyal boy who journeys into the sometimes welcoming, often hostile environment that was nineteenth-century America. You’ll be drawn in by the absorbing history (which is little-known but true) but stay for the characters―and the story that brings them to life.”

David Patneaude, author of Thin Wood Walls

Completely modern and relevant today

“Although the book takes place in 1876, the conflicts and issues raised are completely modern and relevant today as communities wrestle with the integration of traditional values and changes in technology, job requirements, and evolving social mores. As Dori Jones Yang brings these characters to life, they spark lots of thought-provoking questions – fantastic for school or home.” 

Nancy Kennan, mother of a middle schooler, avid reader of historical fiction, and investment banker in New York City

Turns our assumptions upside down.

The Forbidden Temptation of Baseball turns our assumptions of America, and the Chinese impact on our history, upside down. A riveting and revealing story for the ages.” 

Conrad Wesselhoeft, author of Dirt Bikes, Drones, and Other Ways to Fly

Connecting generations and cultures through the lives of ordinary people

Dori Jones Yang is a writer who aims to build bridges between cultures and between generations. Author of a wide variety of books for different audiences, she loves to explore different countries, explain complex issues in understandable language, and make history come alive. 

Author’s Comments

I’ve spent much of my life studying Chinese, reporting in China, and reading and writing about Chinese history. So imagine my surprise when two close friends who grew up in China, Betty and Peter Tonglao, told me a story I had never heard: That the Chinese government—way  back in the 1870s—sent 120 boys to the United States as part of a grand experiment. They were to live with American families, learn English, and go to college so they could then go home and help modernize China. One of these boys, then only eleven years old, was Peter’s grandfather. That set my imagination spinning, and I wrote this book to try to help American kids imagine what it was like for a boy like that.

Author Comments

I’ve spent much of my life studying Chinese, reporting in China, and reading and writing about Chinese history. So imagine my surprise when two close friends who grew up in China, Betty and Peter Tonglao, told me a story I had never heard: That the Chinese government—way  back in the 1870s—sent 120 boys to the United States as part of a grand experiment. They were to live with American families, learn English, and go to college so they could then go home and help modernize China. One of these boys, then only eleven years old, was Peter’s grandfather. That set my imagination spinning, and I wrote this book to try to help American kids imagine what it was like for a boy like that.

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Download a Free Excerpt

 
 

Enter your email to receive a free excerpt of my latest book, The Forbidden Temptation of Baseball.

You will also receive occasional updates about new blog posts and news about my forthcoming memoir.

 
 

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