Readers' Favorite Review: The Railroad Adventures of Chen Sing

The Railroad Adventures of Chen Sing by George Chiang is a delightful children’s book that tells the adventures of Chiang’s grandfather when he first came to America in the 1880s to work on the transcontinental railways on the West Coast. From a small farming village in Southern China’s Guangdong Province to the bustling metropolis of Guangzhou, where Sing and his companion Bo are kidnapped and shipped to Hong Kong, the pair eventually finds themselves on a ship to North America, where their adventures begin. In the raw, untamed Canadian Pacific Rockies, the team of Chinese workmen face daily danger and death as they blast their way through the mountains to build the iron road on Gold Mountain...

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"Award winning book inspired by Cawton man’s stories" by Tara Bowie, Keremeos Review

By Tara Bowie, Keremeos Review

A children’s book based on interviews done about 20 years ago with a man who lived in Cawston has earned global recognition.

The book titled The Railroad Adventures of Chen Sing earned author George Chiang a 2017 Global Ebook award for best Chinese Literature Fiction and Juvenile Fiction.

Chiang travelled from his home in Toronto to interview Isaac (Ike) Sing over a two-week period in 1996 and then again in 1997.
During those interviews Sing spoke about many of his father Chen Sing’s adventures coming to Canada and working to build the railway.

“Ike was an incredible storyteller,” he said during an interview from his home. “We actually met when I was in Cuba. He was fishing off a pier wearing a fishing vest. We were just lucky to be on the same plane and I walked down the aisle to talk to him.”

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"Railroad tale features Merritt" by Cole Wagner, Merritt Herald

"Railroad tale features Merritt" by Cole Wagner, Merritt Herald

The Railroad Adventures of Chen Sing, the story of a railroad worker who braved dangerous conditions during the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railroad, had already earned plaudits from critics – but Merrittonians in particular might find something special in the story.

That's because Chen Sing's story is based on the real Chen Sing, a Chinese immigrant who moved to Canada to work on the railroad, and later settled down in the Nicola Valley to raise a large family. 

A work of historical fiction, the book is aimed at teaching young children and pre-teens about the dangerous and harrowing conditions that work crews – especially Chinese work crews – faced as they attempted to cut a railroad through the Rocky Mountains in the latter half of the 19th century. 

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A kid's review of "The Railroad Adventures of Chen Sing", for Reader Views

Reviewed by Paola Belloso (age 9) for Reader Views (04/17)

“The Railroad Adventures of Chen Sing” by George Chiang, is a story of a boy named Chen Sing who lived in a farming village in China. He had lost both parents and now lived with his older brother and a younger sister. The family was very poor and had to work hard to survive. One day a big storm went through and flooded the village, and everything that they had was gone. Chen Sing’s older cousin, Bo, was leaving the village to find a job to help his family. Chen Sing wanted to go with Bo, so he left his siblings and promised to send money and help them. It was a long way, but when they left, the adventure had just started for both. 

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"Chinese railway worker history comes to life in new Canadian children's book" by June Chua

"Chinese railway worker history comes to life in new Canadian children's book" by June Chua

The old saying is better late than never and that's what playwright George Chiang thought when he finally decided to create the children's book The Railroad Adventures of Chen Sing.

"It was sitting on the shelf, and you know what? I'm not going to live forever," Chiang told me in an interview over Skype from his home in Montreal.

The 68-page colour book just came out in early March and the Montreal-based actor/writer is feeling relieved and a little reticent. The book was almost two decades in the making.

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