As Wong Ting dug in his pole, he squinted, trying to see through the heavy downpour, but it completely shut out the high banks along the edges of the Wu. Something began to stir in Wong Ting’s memory. It stayed far back in his mind, a vague shadow of a thought. He tried to grasp what it was, puckering his brow. After a while he remembered.
If Wong Ting—a river boy in China—had extra coins, he would buy a copper kettle for his mother and a desperately needed new fishing net for his father. For himself, Wong Ting wanted something that money could not buy. In his heart was a secret wish. Only he knew what it was: Wong Ting wanted to walk on the land. This wish is kept hidden for a time as Wong Ting works hard with his family upon their sampan. A raging storm starts a series of exciting events, as the family’s sampan is blown down the angry river out of control toward the open sea. A boat as small as theirs could not hope to ride safely upon the high waves of the South China Sea.
As Wong Ting and his family escape pirates, rescue an orphaned baby, and search the river bottom for a bracelet with three jade dragons, gentle messages come to life about respect, obedience, hard work, kindness, integrity, courage, and hope.