From the Central Series
- Julie Albright
- Ivy Ling
- Daniel Albright
- Joyce Albright
- Tracy Albright
- Mr. Ling
- Marilyn Ling
- Andrew Ling
- Missy Ling
- Gung Gung
- Po Po
- Mrs. Chan
Only Seen in The Puzzle of the Paper Daughter
Chapter By Chapter Summary
Chapter One: Surprises
Julie and Tracy are sitting at the kitchen table eating cookies and talking about the upcoming Valentine Disco. Mom asks for the two of them to head downstairs and help out with the first floor store, Gladrags. The shop has become busy lately, with Tracy working part-time and Mom contemplating hiring more employees. Julie says they'll be down soon. Mom says she's received two large bags of clothing from Ivy's grandmother, Po Po, who's been doing some cleaning ahead of Chinese New Year.
Julie opens one of the bags and takes a peek. The clothing looks old and worn, and Mom tells her to check it for tears. Any damaged clothing will have to be repaired before Mom can add any appliqués or beads. Red and pink clothing will be set aside for the Valentine's Day display. Tracy mentions the school's disco club will host a Valentine's Day dance at the high school gym to raise funds for a shelter housing homeless teens and that she's on the decorating committee. Julie spins inside the shop, thinking what she imagines is a disco move. Mom warns Julie to watch the candle display as Julie knocks into a shelf before the phone rings.
As Mom's occupied with the phone, Tracy takes the other bag and heads to the upstairs apartment. Julie stays downstairs, listening to Mom talk with her old childhood friend, Olivia Kaminksy. Julie takes her bag of clothing and heads upstairs. As the girls sort through the clothes Po Po dropped off for the Valentine's Day's display, they claim various items for their personal use. Julie finds a red ball gown and thinks it's perfect for the dance. Tracy says Julie would look ridiculous as everyone will be wearing jeans.
When Julie starts checking a red quilted coat, she manages to pull out a piece of paper. She unfolds it and finds an old note written in Chinese. Tracy pretends give various translations, such as telling Julie to give her all her allowance or sorting the rest of the clothing by herself. Julie shows the note to Mom, and Mom thinks it could be a shopping list of sorts. The note reminds Mom that she needs to go grocery shopping and that the girls will spend the night with Dad.
As Julie continues to examine the note, Mom says Olivia will be moving to San Francisco to look for a job. Tracy is disinterested, but Julie says Olivia could work at Gladrags. Mom says that while Olivia will be working at Gladrags, the part-time pay won't be enough for her to live on. Olivia will be moving in to the upstairs apartment until she finds a full-time job and an affordable apartment.
Neither Tracy or Julie are excited at the prospect. Julie points out the scarcity of space while Tracy says all the bedrooms are occupied. Mom says it'll only be a month or two. Julie will move into Tracy's room as it's bigger, and Olivia will occupy Julie's room. Tracy wails at the idea. Julie doesn't make a fuss as she knows there's no point in changing Mom's mind.
Mom apologizes to both girls, saying she didn't have much of a choice. Tracy complains there'll be no peace or quiet, let alone privacy. Mom reminds them that all sorts of things could happen when people relocate, then tries to console them that Olivia will be so busy working at Gladrags or looking for a full-time job she'll pay little attention to either girl. Julie suggests she could stay with Dad. Mom vetoes the idea as his flight schedule means he's usually gone half the time. She also reminds the girls to get packed, as Dad will be arriving soon to pick them up. Mom also tells Julie she could show the note to Ivy and see if anyone in her family can translate it. Julie folds the note and puts it away, just as Tracy gives one last pretend translation about Olivia.
Julie doesn't find Tracy's antics funny, and heads to her room. As she looks around her room, she dreads Olivia occupying her room and having to sleep in Tracy's room. Julie tries on the red coat, and finds it too tight and too short for her. Julie pulls out the note again and looks at it. She notices some of the lines are shaky, as if someone had been tense or anxious, and thinks it could either be a note from a friend asking for help, or someone cramming for a test. Julie folds the note and puts it away again, as it's so old it no longer matters what the subject of the note was. Once Julie's done packing, she looks outside the window, waiting for Dad and trying not to think about Olivia.
Chapter Two: Puzzle From The Past
Julie finally sees Dad's car pull up outside the apartment. Dad apologizes for being late and blames it on a delayed flight. Tracy takes the front seat of Dad's car and proceeds to complain about Olivia while Julie sits in the backseat.
Dad mentions just before he left to get the girls, the Lings had phoned him and asked if they'd like to enjoy a meal at The Happy Panda. Julie and Tracy say yes to the invitation. Julie adds maybe Ivy can help translate the note, and Dad jokingly says it may lead to treasure. Tracy gives one last pretend translation for the note about finding a boyfriend at the upcoming disco.
As the Albrights enter the Happy Panda, Julie takes in the sights and smells of the restaurant. Po Po and Gung Gung are the first to greet the Albrights. The Lings enter the restaurant, and are seated at a large round table in the center of the room. The Lings invite the Albrights to sit with them, and Ivy and Julie exchange hugs. Helium balloons are attached to each chair at the Lings' table. Ivy explains Andrew had been invited to a birthday dinner for a friend, Paul Chan. Paul is the son of Mrs. Chan, who teaches Chinese school. Andrew will spend the night at the Chans with several other boys, but Ivy will spend the night at her grandparents' apartment, located above The Happy Panda. She asks Julie if she can spend the night at the restaurant, and Dad gives Julie permission, telling her to come straight home the next morning. Julie and Dad go back to the car to get her overnight bag, and Gung Gung takes it to the upstairs apartment.
A woman sits down at the Lings' table, and Ivy introduces the woman to Julie as Mrs. Chan. In turn, Mrs. Chan introduces Paul, and two of Paul's friends, Mike Gee and Lonny Wu, to Julie. As Ivy and Julie settle into their seats and watch the boys play around, Ivy points out the various boys who attend Chinese school. She describes Lonny as being the smartest kid, but annoying.
Julie tells Ivy the bad news about Olivia moving into Mom's apartment. Ivy jokingly says Julie could move in with her. Andrew, who's been listening in on the conversation, tells Julie there's already enough girls and that Julie had better stay put. As the waiters serve the various patrons inside the restaurant, Julie orders her favorite, green beans with tofu.
When Julie and Ivy are done eating, Julie pulls out the note, gives it to Ivy, and asks if she can read it. Ivy squints at the writing and thinks it's a poem. She grabs a pen and a take-out menu and begins to translate the note. When Ivy's finished, she's confused at the random contents of the note. She suggests talking to Lonny about the note as he is good at translating. When Julie and Ivy approach Lonny at the buffet table, he initially thinks the note is a poem. Ivy snaps at Lonny, pointing out how old the note is. Julie takes the note from Lonny, and thinks Ivy might not have translated the note correctly, which piques Mrs. Chan's interest. She tells Lonny to go get some food before the rest of the boys gobble it all. Mrs. Chan also tells Ivy that she ordered one of Po Po's special cakes for Paul. As a surprise, the cake will be decorated with a parade of superhero toppers. She also reminds Ivy about an upcoming quiz. Ivy does not seem confident, while Julie thinks Ivy will ace it as she translated the note in no time at all. Ivy thinks she may have made some mistakes, as even Lonny pointed out the note made no sense at all.
Mrs. Chan asks to see the note. When she reads the note and Ivy's translation, she praises Ivy for her efforts, recognizing the note was written in Traditional Chinese rather than Simplified Chinese. She thinks Ivy will do well on the quiz. Mrs. Chan takes out a pen and makes a few small corrections to Ivy's translation. As Julie reads the translation out loud, Ivy recognizes the name Jiao Jie as Po Po's name and wonders why her name would be on the note. Mrs. Chan points out Po Po immigrated to America from China, and Ivy says that was a long time ago. Mrs. Chan says Julie may have found an old coaching note, and Po Po may know more about it. As Ivy's grandparents head to the Chans' table to wish Paul a happy birthday, Ivy calls out to them.
Chapter Three: Jiao Jie's Journey
Julie recounts her story on how she found the note in the red jacket to Po Po and Gung Gung. Po Po recognizes the red jacket as having previously belonged to her, and speculates it may have been put away once it got too small for her. Gung Gung asks Po Po about the note, and as everyone in the restaurant gathers around, Po Po begins to explain the history behind the note.
Po Po—Jiao Jie—had previously lived with her mother in a small village, in China. In 1919, when she was fourteen, Po Po's father had written a letter saying it was time for them to join him in San Francisco. He had been living alone and working hard to earn money for Po Po and her mother to immigrate to America. As Po Po's mother was very ill, she decided to send Po Po ahead by herself. At the dock, Po Po's mother gave a note to Po Po and told her to memorize the contents so she would be able to pass the interview.
Julie interrupts the story about the interview. A young man with a long ponytail explains to Julie that interviews were given to Chinese immigrants processed at Angel Island to determine they were who they truly claimed to be. Gung Gung notes the young man seems well informed about the topic, and the young man explains his grandparents had been detained at Angel Island for months. An elderly man, Mr. Sing Chen, says he too had been detained at Angel Island.
Po Po goes back to her story. She had promised her mother she would memorize the note's contents, but when she tried to look for the note, she could not find it. Po Po assumed the note had been blown overboard due to the cold winds. Po Po adds that her mother died shortly after she left China.
Tracy asks what the note says. Po Po reads it and finds some oddly-written things. Her mother had written that Po Po's doll, Kai, was her best-loved toy, but Kai was a doll Po Po had received from a neighbor a few days before she left China. As Po Po was almost fifteen, she no longer played with dolls, but Po Po's mother insisted she take it for the journey. Mrs. Chan speculates Po Po's mother may have been confused due to her illness and thought the doll would bring some comfort to Po Po. Po Po muses that may have been the case.
After Po Po boarded the ship, she befriended an orphan girl named Mei Meng. Mei was traveling to San Francisco to join with her new guardians, following her parents' deaths from influenza. Po Po mentions Mei was from a poor village, and happy to have new guardians in America rather than try and make her way as an orphan. However, Mei had to pretend her guardians were her parents, as the immigration law only permitted family members of American citizens to enter the country. Even with all her coaching notes about her guardians, Mei was frightened she would not pass the interview. The young man interjects, saying Mei was a paper daughter, a term given to children whose travel documents identified them as sons and daughters joining their parents in America, but in reality were mostly orphans, acquaintances, or distant relatives hoping for a better life.
Po Po returns to her story. She quizzed Mei until Mei knew all the answers, but Po Po was still unable to find her own coaching note. However, Po Po was not particularly worried, she knew she was a true daughter and would know enough details about her home in China and her parents and neighbors to convince the immigration officials. On the last day at sea, the girls threw Mei's coaching notes into the wind. They were transferred from the large ship to a smaller boat and taken to the Immigration Station. The two girls lived in the barracks while waiting for the interviews.
About a month passes before Po Po's called to do the interview. The interview is more like an interrogation, the questions Po Po has to answer involve her family history, her home, the school she attended. Despite losing the coaching note, Po Po answers the questions as honestly and to the best of her ability. Po Po then has to identify her father's photo among many photographs on the table. After the interview, Po Po is sent back to the barracks. A week passes before Po Po learns she's passed the interview and allowed to live in America. Despite having passed the interview, Po Po finds it hard to say goodbye to Mei, as Mei had almost become like a sister to Po Po.
Julie asks what happened to Mei. Po Po explains that she learned years later from another woman who lived in the barracks that Mei passed her interview a month after Po Po's interview, and moved with her guardians to live in Oakland. Julie then asks if Po Po recognized her father, and Po Po says her father looked exactly like the photograph she was asked to pick out during the interview. However, while Po Po was detained in Angel Island, her father received a letter stating Po Po's mother had died of her illness.
When Po Po arrived home at her father's produce shop, her father asked for an item from Po Po's mother. Po Po initially thought it was the woolen shawl, but Po Po's father said he had asked Po Po's mother to bring a jade necklace, an heirloom that had been in his family for generations. Po Po's father needed the money as life in America was not as he had expected; selling the jade necklace would bring a good price. Po Po says she was not given any valuables for the journey and thought her mother would bring the jade necklace with her when she recovered from her illness. Despite the death of Po Po's mother and not having the jade necklace, things turned out alright for Po Po and her father. The produce shop provided her family with an adequate living, and Po Po's father eventually remarried and had two more children. While Po Po's youth was relatively happy following her arrival to America, she still misses her mother. Po Po tells Julie she's brought a very special present, her mother's letter.
After Po Po's done telling her story, two waiters wheel in a cart carrying a large birthday cake to the Chans' table. The people in the restaurant turn their attention from Po Po to Paul, who blows out all twelve candles in one breath. Everyone sings "Happy Birthday" to Paul, and Mrs. Chan thanks Po Po for baking a magnificent cake.
A little girl, Carrie, runs over to the Chans' table and asks Paul how old he is. Carrie tells Paul she's five, and that he has a lot of presents—in fact, too many presents. Paul says he has just the right amount of presents and asks the little girl where her parents are. Carrie says she wants to sit with him, making the boys laugh. Lonny tells the girl to scram, and she yells she wants a present.
A woman grabs Carrie's hand and admonishes her, telling her she needs to finish her supper. Carrie pulls away and says she wants a new toy. Carrie's mother says there's no money for new toys and she takes Carrie away from the Chans' table to another part of the restaurant. At that point, the boys begin to play and roughhouse, throwing superhero figures at one another. Julie sees a dark head duck out of sight, and thinks it could either be Carrie or one of the boys. She feels lucky having brought the coaching note and returning it to Po Po.
Chapter Four: Vanished!
When the festivities are over, Dad says it's time to go home. Gung Gung says he hopes they'll be back to celebrate Chinese New Year at the end of the month. After all the diners have left, Ivy and Julie help clean up the restaurant. They find a large slice of birthday cake with a Green Hornet topper at the Chans' table. Julie says the cake looks too delicious to throw away. Ivy agrees, and the two girls eat the remaining cake.
Once Julie and Ivy are done cleaning up the kitchen, they head upstairs to Gung Gung and Po Po's apartment. Po Po says it's been a busy night, and Gung Gung says the busier the better. Po Po turns on a table lamp, and finds something's wrong. The apartment looks like a mess, with closet doors open and items scattered on the floor. Po Po realizes someone's gone through their apartment, and Gung Gung goes to call the police. He tells the girls and Po Po to stay in the hallway while he investigates the apartment. Julie follows Gung Gung, and when neither he or Julie find anyone hiding inside the apartment, Gung Gung allows Po Po and Ivy to reenter the apartment. When the police arrive, Po Po tells the girls to make tea. While waiting for the water to boil, Ivy and Julie head to the guest bedroom. Both girls find it creepy that someone has been inside the apartment.
In the living room, Po Po and Gung Gung tell the police nothing valuable, such as jewelry or money, was stolen. Ivy runs in and tells the police her doll, Li Ming, is missing. Julie's doll, Yue Yan, has also gone missing. While neither doll has any monetary value, both dolls are special and valuable to both girls. Julie feels the police are not likely going to put much effort into finding a pair of dolls.
As Julie and Ivy help clean up the apartment, Julie tries to imagine what might have happened while they were downstairs at the restaurant. Someone clearly had snuck upstairs, searched the apartment, and took the two dolls. As the dolls are not particularly large, they could have been hidden inside a jacket pocket or a purse. Julie suddenly remembers Carrie, the little girl who wanted a present and made a fuss at the restaurant, and thinks she may have taken the dolls with her.
Chapter Five: A Troubling Discovery
As Julie and Ivy prepare for bed, they discuss about the possibility of Carrie stealing their dolls. Ivy mentions Gung Gung doesn't lock the upstairs apartment while he's downstairs at the restaurant. Both of them had noticed Carrie kept running away from her table, and when both girls ask Po Po about Carrie and her mother, Po Po said Carrie's mother was applying for a bookkeeping job at the restaurant. Po Po doubts Carrie stole the dolls, but she'll call Carrie's mother the next morning.
On Saturday morning, as the girls gather their overnight bags, they can't help but think about their missing dolls. On their way out of the restaurant, Po Po asks if one of them will help throw out the trash, and Julie volunteers. She takes the trash bag to the alley behind the restaurant, and notices a pair of tiny feet among the rubbish. Julie drops the trash bag, digs into the garbage, and finds Ivy's doll, Li Ming, with its head popped off.
Ivy becomes distressed at the sight of her ruined doll. Julie begins to dig through the other trash bags looking for Yue Yan. Ivy vows to find a way to fix Li Ming and keep her safe. Julie is unsuccessful at finding Yue Yan. She pulls out the note and reads the line about Po Po's doll, Kai, being the best-loved toy and how it would bless Po Po and her father with riches. Julie can't help but wonder if there's something special about Po Po's doll and whether or not a connection between Kai, Li Ming, and Yue Yan exists.
Chapter Six: Written in Code?
The girls return to the restaurant and find Po Po arranging bouquets for the tables. Po Po chides Ivy, telling her she'll be late to Chinese school. Ivy shows Po Po the ruined doll, and after a quick examination Po Po says she thinks she'll able to fix the doll while Ivy's at Chinese school. Po Po wonders who could have done such a thing, and asks Julie if she found her doll. Julie says no.
Julie heads to Dad's house, and as she's walking she can see Alcatraz Island and Angel Island in the San Francisco Bay. She starts thinking about the interviews Po Po and Mei had to go through. Julie finds it strange that someone would ask how many steps it took for them from their home to school, and wonders if she would ever have to answer questions as weird as the ones in Po Po's interview. Julie finds it sad that Po Po and Mei lost touch with each other after arriving in America, and hates the thought of losing touch with Ivy.
Once Julie arrives at Dad's house, she sits down on the porch and reads the translated note. Julie finds it very sad that Po Po never got to see her mother again, but Julie is also puzzled as to why the note would say Kai was Po Po's best loved doll when Po Po had only received Kai a few days before leaving China.
Julie goes inside Dad's house, greets Dad and Tracy, and goes to her room. She looks at her bedroom, and compares it to her bedroom at Mom's apartment. Julie thinks about Nutmeg and how cuddling her seemed to make Julie's problems go away. Julie remembers the police asking if Yue Yan and Li Ming were valuable the night before. She wonders if the thief might have found Yue Yan or Li Ming valuable, and whether Kai might have been valuable.
The phone rings, and a moment later Tracy calls for Julie, saying it's Po Po on the other end. Julie goes to Dad's bedroom and picks up the phone to speak with Po Po. Po Po tells Julie Carrie's mother was offered the bookkeeping job and seemed appalled that someone would steal the dolls. Po Po also tells Julie Carrie was with her mother and seemed shocked that the dolls were stolen. Po Po thinks Carrie wasn't the thief. Julie agrees, saying a child who wanted a new toy would never have stolen a doll only to pull off the doll's head and leave it in the garbage.
Julie asks Po Po if Kai was valuable. Po Po said Kai was just a rag doll and she gave it to Mei the day she left Angel Island. Po Po knew Mei liked Kai, and thought leaving the doll with Mei would bring her some comfort while waiting her interview. Julie says that was kind of Po Po, but she still finds it sad Po Po and Mei lost touch with one another. Po Po says while she did receive a Christmas card from Mei, it was sad that they lost touch. Julie thanks Po Po for calling, and sits on Dad's bed, thinking about the dolls and their value. Julie still finds it strange why Po Po's mother had written that Kai would bring riches.
After lunch, Julie heads to Ivy's home. She's greeted by Missy, who tells her Po Po's reattached Li Ming's head. Julie's glad to hear the news and heads upstairs to find Ivy playing with Nutmeg. Ivy says the two of them will have to work harder to find out who took their dolls. Julie finds it strange that the thief found Li Ming to not be of value and toss her in the garbage while Yue Yan remains missing, despite the two dolls being the same type.
Julie says it seems too much of a coincidence that the previous night's discussion was about dolls, about Po Po's doll Kai, and the fact their dolls disappeared. Ivy thinks between the three events, it doesn't make sense. Julie suggests a list should be made of all the people who were at The Happy Panda the previous night and determine if someone got the idea to steal Li Ming and Yue Yan after Po Po's story. Ivy thinks the only person who would steal their dolls is Carrie.
As Julie continues to think, she tells Ivy she finds it odd about the things Po Po's mother wrote about Kai. Ivy thinks it's only a mistake due to illness, which doesn't convince Julie. Julie thinks Po Po's mother did not make a mistake, and that the note may have been written in code. Ivy thinks Julie's gone crazy. Julie recalls an incident, when she and Tracy were young, about a child who had been kidnapped from school. Mom had read an article that mentioned the kidnapper was a person the child had been familiar with; as a result the child got into the kidnapper's car. Mom gave Julie and Tracy a code phrase to use if neither she or Dad could get the girls and to listen for the code phrase if someone else was sent to pick them up.
Julie thinks Po Po's mother might have been trying to convey a message to Po Po if she wrote something Po Po knew was patently false. Ivy says no one's been able to figure out what kind of a message Po Po's mother was trying to say, but Julie says someone did figure out what the note said—the thief who took Yue Yan and Li Ming.
Chapter Seven: Chinatown Chase
After hearing Julie's explanation about the note, Ivy agrees to make the list of people at the Happy Panda. Names on the list include friends and business acquaintances of Gung Gung and Po Po, the Chans, Mike Gee and his father, and Lonny Wu. As Ivy goes through the list and crosses off various names, she notes it would be uncharacteristic of Mike to be so mean as to steal their dolls since he makes everyone laugh at Chinese school and frequently gets into trouble with Mrs. Chan, saying how learning Chinese was a waste of time and attending Chinese school on Saturdays is downright un-American. Julie disagrees and says she wishes she could speak another language, and if no one knew Chinese there wouldn't have been anyone to translate the note. Ivy thinks Julie makes a good point, but agrees with Mike that Chinese school shouldn't be held on Saturdays.
Once Ivy's gone through the list and crossed off every name written on it, she says it just can't possibly be anyone they know and tells Julie to forget about it. Julie points out the young man with the long ponytail who was present at the Happy Panda. Ivy doesn't know the young man's name, but adds him to the list of people at the restaurant. She suggests to Julie since Li Ming was found in the garbage, they should go back to Chinatown and see if they can find Yue Yan before Monday. Julie says they'll look tomorrow.
During the evening, Julie plays chess with Dad while Tracy makes brownies for dessert. Julie tells Dad she wants to go to Chinatown with Ivy and look for Yue Yan. Dad asks where they'll look for Yue Yan and doesn't want Julie or Ivy to get involved in anything dangerous. Julie vaguely says they'll just look in trash cans, without telling Dad her plans to look for the thief. Dad puts Julie's king in check, and Julie realizes she got distracted from the game. Julie's reminded of how distracted everyone was at the restaurant when the dolls were stolen, and how Olivia's intruding into her life and taking over her bedroom.
On Sunday morning, Julie rides her bike to Ivy's house to spend breakfast with the Lings. Ivy suggests while they're looking for Yue Yan, they should ask if anyone knows Mei Meng. Julie thinks it would be a wonderful idea to reunite Po Po and Mei after so many years, and Mrs. Ling agrees. After breakfast, Julie and Ivy head out to Chinatown. Julie sees a yellow motorbike following, then passing them by.
Once in Chinatown, the first place the girls visit is Louie's Number One Bakery. Ivy mentions Chinese school's held above the bakery and the smells of the cakes drive her crazy. Julie becomes hungry at the sight of the various cakes on display. The girls are welcomed by Louie Fong, and he gives them a large sweetheart cake when they ask. Mr. Fong refuses to take the girls' money and gives each girl another sweetheart cake, seeing how many times Gung Gung allowed him to eat at The Happy Panda for free.
Julie asks if he's known Ivy's grandparents for a long time. Mr. Fong explains he's been friends with Po Po and Gung Gung since he was twenty, when he was a waiter and Gung Gung was an apprentice chef at the same restaurant. Gung Gung and Po Po had not yet married when the three became friends, and when the three of them weren't working they frequently partied amongst themselves. Ivy asks if he's ever met Mei, and Mr. Fong says he never met her. He suggests a person named Mrs. Tan, a business owner who moved from Oakland's Chinatown to San Francisco's Chinatown and runs the Lucky Five and Dime, might know Mei, though.
The girls thank Mr. Fong for the cakes and leave. They head behind the bakery and search through the various boxes and packing material from nearby shops, but there's no sign of Yue Yan. Julie feels guilty for thinking Mr. Fong was the thief, but just before she leaves she gets a glimpse of something blue behind some crates. Julie reaches behind the crates and pulls out Yue Yan. She's relieved to have found her doll, only to become angry when she finds Yue Yan's head fastened backwards. Julie finds Yue Yan's collar torn and thinks the doll's head may have been popped off and replaced back by the thief.
Julie continues to think about who the possible thief could be. She thinks it could have been someone from Chinese school since the doll was found near Mr. Fong's bakery. Once Yue Yan's hidden away in Julie's jacket, Julie suggest they visit Mrs. Tan's shop, the Lucky Five and Dime and ask her about Mei. Ivy asks Julie if she really thinks Mr. Fong could have stolen the dolls. Before Julie can answer, she's interrrupted by the sound of a motorbike. Julie sees it's the same motorbike that passed them while they were in Chinatown, and recognizes the driver as the young man with the long ponytail. Ivy wonders if the man's following them. Julie considers the possibility that since he was at the Happy Panda the previous Friday and thinks he might have mistaken either Yue Yan or Li Ming for Kai.
When the girls reach the Lucky Five and Dime, they see the yellow motorbike parked outside the store. Inside the store, neither Julie or Ivy see any signs of the young man. The girls introduce themselves to Mrs. Tan and ask if she knew Mei. Mrs. Tan says Mei must be popular as there was a previous customer who asked exactly the same thing and was also looking for her. Julie turns to see the motorbike driver leaving the shop and taking off. Mrs. Tan says she sees the motorbike driver at Yep's Garage and suggests the girls talk to the driver, thinking he might be a friend of Mei and by extension, a friend of Julie and Ivy. Julie says the man's no friend of either her or Ivy.
Ivy explains Mei's story to Mrs. Tan. While Mrs. Tan is familiar with Po Po and the Happy Panda, one Mei she knew was a young girl named Mei-Mei who bought white rabbits from her shop. Mrs. Tan offers Julie a white rabbit from a porcelain bowl, which baffles Julie. Both Mrs. Tan and Ivy each take a white rabbit for themselves. Mrs. Tan speculates Mei-Mei is probably not the person Julie and Ivy are looking for, as Mei-Mei was a girl younger than Mei. Other Meis Mrs. Tan recalls are Mrs. Mei Chung and Mrs. Mei Liu, but not Mei Meng. Mrs. Tan suggests the girls should visit a nearby tea house. The owner of the tea house, Mr. Long, was detained at Angel Island and previously owned a tea house in Oakland before moving to San Francisco.
A customer enters the shop. It turns out to be Mrs. Chan, who's come to purchase several notebooks and pencil boxes. Mrs. Chan can't help but overhear the conversation between Mrs. Tan and the two girls. She asks if Po Po knows what they're up to. Julie is surprised by Mrs. Chan's irritated demeanor while Ivy explains Po Po only wants to meet an old friend. Mrs. Chan comments if the two were going to explore Chinatown asking questions about Mei's whereabouts, Ivy could at least practice speaking Chinese. As the two girls leave the shop, Julie gets an uneasy feeling from Mrs. Chan.
Chapter Eight: Talk in the Tearoom
The girls head over to Mr. Long's tea house. Ivy tells the waitress she and Julie want to talk to Mr. Long about his time at Angel Island and his tea house in Oakland, then tells Julie what she just told the waitress. Julie wishes she knew Chinese, but consoles herself that her class would have Spanish lessons the next school year. The waitress tells the girls to have a seat. The girls watch the waitress serve tea to the various customers inside the tea house. A tall, thin man comes out of the kitchen to greet the girls. He asks Julie and Ivy if they've ever been to Angel Island, then says he spent a whole month on the island at the time as a young boy, younger than the two girls.
They're interrupted by Lonny entering the tea house. Lonny asks the waitress, his mother, for the house key following baseball practice. Mrs. Wu asks where the other boys are and Lonny mentions they've gone to get ice cream. Mrs. Wu then asks Lonny if he'd like some money for ice cream, and Lonny declines, saying they need to save money. Mrs. Wu praises her son, and gives him the house key. Lonny thanks his mother and as he's about to leave, he notices Julie with Yue Yan. He teases her about it, calling the dirt-covered doll a baby. Ivy tells Julie to ignore him. Julie's only too happy that Yue Yan's back with her to put up with any teasing from Lonny.
Mr. Long continues with his story. His parents had come to Oakland to set up a tea house and left him with his grandparents in China. Immigration officials thought Mr. Long's travel documents were lying, hence his extended time on Angel Island. Lonny interrupts, saying how such stories as Mr. Long's makes him mad. He compares Angel Island to Alcatraz for Chinese immigrants, saying the American dream of opportunity was something Chinese immigrants weren't supposed to have, and probably aren't supposed to have even in the present day. He thinks American Chinese people are probably overworked and underpaid, if they even have jobs at all.
Lonny's rant prompts a scolding from his mother. Mrs. Wu says that their situation is alright, and that his father will eventually find steady work soon. Lonny wishes he was old enough to work, and Mr. Long tells Mrs. Wu that once Lonny turns sixteen, he should check at the tea house and see if there's any work for him. Mrs. Wu thanks her employer for the offer, but mentions that Lonny still plays with superheroes with his brother. Lonny brushes his mother's comment off and asks Ivy if Po Po has any more superhero toppers as he lost his Green Hornet topper. Mrs. Wu comments that the Green Hornet is Lonny's favorite character and green is Lonny's favorite color. Julie realizes the remaining cake she and Ivy ate at the Happy Panda following Paul's birthday party was probably Lonny's cake.
Ivy says she'll ask Po Po. She then asks Mr. Long if he's familiar with Mei Meng and when he lived in Oakland. Mr. Long thinks for a moment, then says he's never heard of her. He suggests to the girls they could take a ferry to Angel Island and see if the park rangers might have records of her there, now that Angel Island's a state park. Julie asks if he's ever been back to Angel Island. Mr. Long says he'll never go back there ever again, as it's a place with too many bad memories. He wonders if the poem carvings are still at the barracks, then tells Ivy he hopes she'll be able to find Po Po's friend. As the girls leave the tea house, Julie thinks about Mr. Long as a young boy detained at Angel Island. She suddenly understands what Lonny's rant was about—that America had not welcomed Chinese immigrants and provided the same opportunity for success the same way immigrants from other countries might have.
The yellow motorbike drives past Julie and Ivy's bikes towards the tea house. Julie and Ivy agree that it seems too much of a coincidence the motorbike seems to be visiting the same places they've been to all day. Julie wants to go back and confront the motorbike driver, but decides against the idea. The two girls head back to the Happy Panda, bustling with activity. Po Po is glad to see Julie's recovered Yue Yan, and tells the girls she's been thinking about Mei all day. Ivy tells Po Po they want to find Mei and how much fun it would be to reunite her with Po Po. Po Po says it would be wonderful, and tells the girls about a trunk containing old letters and cards in the storage room. Po Po thinks an item she once received from Mei might be in the trunk and there might be an address.
The girls head to the storage room and open the trunk. They begin to sort through the trunk's contents, starting with the photo albums. They find pictures of Mrs. Ling as a young girl, and Gung Gung as a young man. Ivy translates the various characters from the photo labels, but neither girl finds any mention of Mei Meng. One shoebox has various business receipts from the Happy Panda's early days, as well as articles and reviews about the restaurant from Chinese and English newspapers. Another shoebox contains various holiday cards and letters. The girls have a good time looking at pictures of unfamiliar people and reading written sentiments, but there is still no mention of Mei Meng. Ivy finds a birthday card addressed to Gung Gung from someone named Wura Meng and letters from people named Meng Wah and Mei Chong Wu. Julie finds a Christmas card dated 1932 from two people, simply named Mei and Robert, with a photo of a fat baby attached. Ivy translates the characters written on the back of the photo, which reads, "Baby Billy growing up fast. Has learned to walk already!"
Julie is disappointed that neither she or Ivy are close to finding out Mei's whereabouts. Ivy suggests they bring any items with the names Mei or Meng to Po Po and see if she could identify them. As a last resort, Julie shakes the folded curtains hoping to find something useful. When nothing flies out, Julie places the curtains back into the trunk. Ivy says they should get a snack, and Julie agrees. She adds that even if none of the items they found in the trunk are from Mei Meng, their search isn't over yet, as they've yet to check Angel Island.
Chapter Nine: Pieces of the Puzzle
The cook gives Julie and Ivy a bowl of dumplings, and the girls take their food to the dining room. They find Gung Gung in one of the booths looking through some account ledgers. Gung Gung tells Julie he's glad to hear she's found her doll. Julie says it looks like someone popped off the doll's head and put it back on, but thinks Mom will be able to fix it.
Gung Gung asks if the girls found anything in the storage room, and Ivy brings out the various cards she and Julie found. Ivy asks if any of the cards may have come from Mei Meng. Gung Gung only recognizes the names Meng Wah and Mei Chong Wu as neighbors who used to live nearby before moving to Seattle. He says the girls will have to ask Po Po about the other names once she's woken up from her nap, and adds he himself could use a nap soon.
Julie asks if he'll take the girls to Angel Island the next day, after school. Gung Gung sharply says no, telling the girls they'll not find Mei there. Julie says there might be information about Mei at Angel Island, and Ivy suggests maybe Po Po could take them to the island. Gung Gung shakes his head, saying the island is the last place Po Po would want to visit. He tells the girls he'll ask Po Po about the other names from the cards, and dismisses them. As the girls leave, Julie says she'll ask her parents if they'll take them to Angel Island; Ivy says she'll phone Po Po personally and see if she wants to go back to Angel Island.
During the evening drive back to Mom's apartment, Dad says he won't be able to take Julie to the island as he's got a flight to England. It starts drizzling outside the car and Tracy notes it's going to rain all week. While Dad begins talking about the weather in England, Julie worries the rain will prevent the Angel Island ferry from operating. She also worries that Mom won't be able to take her to Angel Island since she'll be busy with Olivia moving in soon. Julie asks Tracy if she'll take her to Angel Island, and Tracy answers she won't be able to with the upcoming Valentine Disco. While Tracy's willing to drop Julie off at Fisherman's Wharf if Ivy's parents are present, Julie knows there's no point asking Mr. and Mrs. Ling due to their busy schedules. Julie wonders if Po Po will refuse to go to Angel Island.
Right before Julie goes to bed, she gets a phone call from Ivy. Ivy says Po Po has agreed to take the girls to Angel Island. Ivy also mentions the Christmas card from Mei and Robert is from Mei Meng, however, Po Po doesn't remember what their last names were. Julie notes that at least they now know Mei got married and had a baby by 1932.
Later that night, Julie thinks about Po Po and Mei, when they were Tracy's age, being detained at Angel Island, so far from home and without their families. She thinks about how Olivia will feel when she moves into Julie's room.
Chapter Ten: Angel Island
The next day at school, Joy and Carla ask if Julie would like to join them for ice cream after school. Julie declines the offer as she'll be meeting with Ivy and head for Angel Island. Julie starts to tell them about what had happened that weekend before she's interrupted by Mrs. Duncan calling the class to attention.
Once the school day is over, Julie waits for Tracy to pick her up. Once Tracy shows up, Julie gets into the car and both head for Fisherman's Wharf. Tracy sees Ivy and Po Po at the ticket booth. Julie gets out of Tracy's car, taking her wallet with her for the fare and telling Tracy she'll see her later. Julie, Ivy, and Po Po wait in line for the Angel Island ferry. The girls settle Po Po inside the ferry while they head to the upper deck. They imagine what it must have been like to sail to Angel Island during Po Po and Mei's time.
Once the ferry disembarks at the visitor's center, Julie thinks how strange everything must seem to Po Po, returning to the place she was once detained as a girl. A park ranger gathers the group outside a dilapidated building, discussing its history as a detention barracks slated for destruction in 1970 before the discovery of the carved poems that described the despair and frustration felt by the detained immigrants. The ranger quotes a translated line from the Ox Poem, then discusses how the poems remind people the importance of Angel Island in Chinese American history. Following the discovery of the poems, a committee was formed to save the immigration buildings with the intent to turn them into a museum. As the tour continues, Po Po points out the various places and activities she and Mei did during their detention, such as playing tag outside the barracks. She describes the food at Angel Island as being terrible. When the tour is over, Po Po gives permission to Ivy and Julie to head to the beach while she rests. At the beach, the girls can see the various buildings and towns on the shoreline from the island. Julie thinks how frustrating it must have been for Po Po and Mei to see the same view while stuck on Angel Island.
Ivy sees the Angel Island ferry approaching, and the girls head back to the docks. As they wait to board, the ranger walks over to say goodbye to the group. The girls thank the ranger for the tour. While the ranger is pleased that the girls enjoyed the tour, she's not so sure about Po Po. Ivy says Po Po had never mentioned being detained at Angel Island. The ranger explains how Angel Island detainees knew about the injustice between them and other immigrant groups due to the Chinese Exclusion Act. Julie says it must have been scary for children immigrating alone, just like Po Po and Mei. Ivy asks the ranger if the island might have information about Mei and her life after becoming an American citizen. The ranger answers that such records aren't available to the public, but the girls can try and search old newspaper archives at a public library for birth, marriage, and death announcements. Julie hopes Mei isn't dead.
On the ferry, Ivy asks Po Po if she got seasick on her trip from China to San Francisco. Po Po turns to look at the barracks and says she didn't get seasick, only homesick and heartsick. As the ferry is docked and people line up and wait to disembark, Julie watches a group of people board the ferry. She notices a dark-haired woman with a green scarf and points her out to Ivy. Ivy recognizes the woman with the green scarf as Mrs. Chan, her son Paul accompanying her. She almost raises her arm to wave at them before Julie yanks it down, saying it can't be a coincidence Mrs. Chan and Paul were on the ferry to and from Angel Island. Ivy wonders if Mrs. Chan herself might be playing detective, and Julie points out Mrs. Chan mentioned her doll collecting hobby and Yue Yan was found near the bakery where she teaches Chinese school. Ivy is dubious of Julie's claims, saying Mrs. Chan had been sitting with them at Paul's birthday dinner the entire time. Additionally, as a doll collector, Mrs. Chan would know Yue Yan and Li Ming weren't old or valuable dolls to begin with.
Ivy steps away from Julie to greet Mrs. Chan. The two exchange words in Chinese, then Mrs. Chan turns her attention to Julie. She says she's not surprised to find the girls at Angel Island ever since Po Po told her story at Paul's birthday dinner; Julie's discovery of Po Po's coaching note was what piqued Mrs. Chan's interest in visiting Angel Island. Julie tries to imagine Mrs. Chan taking the girls' dolls, and finds it an impossible scenario. However, she can't dismiss the fact the dolls had been stolen, the dolls' heads had been popped off, Li Ming had been discarded into the trash, and Yue Yan was recovered at Chinese school.
Julie becomes puzzled at why both dolls' heads had been popped off, and remembers a line in the coaching note about Kai blessing Po Po and her father with riches. She wonders if the thief thought there was something valuable hidden inside Kai, and remembers the jade necklace Po Po was supposed to have given to her father upon arrival to America. Julie discusses her theories to Ivy about why the dolls' heads had been popped off. Ivy thinks Julie's theories are plausible—the doll would be of little value to anyone unless there was something of value hidden inside. Julie wants to search the newspaper archives for Mei and see if she still has the old doll. She thinks other people may be searching for Mei as well. Ivy asks what will Julie do if Mei still has the doll. Julie looks around to make sure she can't be overheard by bystanders, then whispers in Ivy's ear she'll open the old doll up and see what's inside.
Chapter Eleven: Alive and Kicking
The girls decide not to tell Po Po about their newfound theories until they find Mei and the rag doll Kai. Julie is kept occupied by Mom cleaning out her room in preparation for Olivia's arrival, preventing her from going to the public library to search the archives.
On Tuesday morning, the phone rings, and Mom asks Julie to get the phone. When Julie picks up the phone, she hears a raspy voice on the other end and realizes it's Olivia. Olivia tries to engage Julie in a conversation, but Julie puts Olivia on hold. She goes to the bathroom to find Mom helping Tracy fix her hair, and says the phone's for her. Julie heads back to her bedroom and sees the morning's mess. She can hear Mom's laughter and saying she'll meet Olivia on Saturday. Julie decides not to clean up her room.
During lunchtime at school Julie talks to Joy and Carla about Olivia moving into Mom's apartment, mimicking Olivia's voice. Once the school day is over, Julie boards the bus for the public library. She finds Ivy waiting inside, near the library entrance. The girls ask for directions to the newspaper archives, and head to the third floor, where a librarian shows them how to operate the microfilm reader. Ivy explains to the librarian they're trying to find Mei and see if her name was mentioned in the papers. Once Julie and Ivy have narrowed down the timeline between Mei's arrival to America as a teenager in 1919 and the 1932 Christmas card with the baby picture, the librarian suggests the girls should look for papers around 1924 or 1925, when Mei would have been around 20 years old. He shows the girls how to use the microfilm reels on the reader, then leaves them alone.
As the girls search through the reels, they write down a list of people either named Mei or Meng. They find five marriage announcements between 1924 and 1928—one announcement in particular, a Mei Xan marrying a Robert Liu in 1927, stands out to Ivy. Julie says he married someone named Mei Xan, mispronouncing Xan, and Ivy corrects her. As Julie reads the marriage announcement, Ivy wonders if Mei took her guardians' surname since she immigrated to America as a paper daughter. Julie realizes it makes sense and compliments Ivy. She remembers the baby picture that came with the Christmas card and suggests to Ivy if they can find any birth announcements mentioning Mei, Robert, and Billy together then they'll know for sure Mei Xan is Mei Meng.
The girls go back to looking through the microfilm reels between 1927 and 1932. Julie finds a birth announcement for a William Stuart born to Robert and Mei Liu in January 1932, which Ivy deduces Billy as a nickname derived from William. Julie copies the information to her notebook. Ivy asks what they should do now and Julie says she'll go look in the phone book for Mei Liu. The girls take their findings to the librarian, and he directs them to the phone books. Julie begins thumbing through the Oakland directory, telling Ivy they just need to look for the names Mei, Robert, William, or their initials. Ivy adds they may have to look for nicknames as well. Once they've gathered all the names and phone numbers matching their criteria from the Oakland directory, they repeat the process for the San Francisco directory.
After their research, the girls thank the librarian and leave. Ivy suggests they head to the Happy Panda, where Mrs. Ling can pick them up. As it's raining, the girls are soaked when they reach the back door of the restaurant. The cook gives them towels to dry their hair and tells them Gung Gung and Po Po are at Mr. Long's tea house, but should be back soon. The girls head to the upstairs apartment and Ivy begins calling the list of people they had written down at the library. The initial phone calls do not pan out, and Ivy hands the phone to Julie, wondering if they'll find Mei and pondering various scenarios that could throw them off, such as Mei getting a divorce, remarrying, or death. Julie tries to cheer her up, saying they still have to go through the San Francisco phone numbers.
Julie dials a number on the list and reaches a man from a Liu residence. She asks the same questions she and Ivy have been asking through previous phone calls, asking if there's any member of the Liu family named Robert or William or someone originally named Mei Meng at the residence. The man wonders if the phone call is a prank, making Julie blurt out almost the entire story about Po Po and Mei's arrival to America as well as Mei's real name. The man interrupts Julie, confirming that his mother's real name was Mei Meng and her immigrating to America in 1919. He asks for Julie's identity, but Julie asks if the man's father's name was Robert and if he had been born in 1932, which he confirms. Julie realizes the man on the phone is the baby in the picture. She asks the man if Mei is alive, which he confirms. Julie then says she and Ivy would like to reunite the man's mother with an old friend.
Chapter Twelve: Tea Cakes and Conversation
The man goes to discuss about how his mother, Mei Meng, arrived at Angel Island and gone to live with her guardians in Oakland, the Xans, taking the Xans' surname as her own, then going on to marrying Robert Liu and having Bill, the man who was the baby in the baby picture. Robert had died five years ago, leaving Mei a widow and living alone until she broke her hip and was sent to a convalescent hospital. Mr. Liu says having Po Po visit Mei might cheer her up and says the girls are enterprising in tracking Mei down. He asks for Po Po's number and plans to call her personally to arrange a reunion.
The girls thank Mr. Liu for his time, and once Julie hangs up the phone, Ivy says they should head over to Mr. Long's tea house and tell Po Po before Mr. Liu calls again. They grab umbrellas and head over to the tea house around the corner. They find Gung Gung and Po Po at a corner table enjoying tea cakes. Po Po invites the girls to sit with them and asks Mrs. Wu for two more cups.
Ivy begins telling Po Po about their search for Mei and how they located her son, Bill. Po Po is touched by the story and says they are kind girls to have taken such efforts to find Mei and her family. Gung Gung is eager to meet Mei and see what kind of a life she's lived since immigrating to America. He hopes Mei has lived a happy life considering many people saw immigrants from Angel Island as unwelcome intruders.
Gung Gung's mention at the words "unwelcome intruders" suddenly remind Julie she's not finished cleaning out her room in preparation for Olivia's arrival. Before she can ask to use the phone, Mr. Long comes to Gung Gung and Po Po's table with a plate of tea cakes and says it's on the house in celebration of Po Po reuniting with Mei. The girls wonder how Mr. Long heard the news so quickly and if Mrs. Wu may have told him about the reunion.
A new customer arrives at the tea house, and Mr. Long hurries over to welcome the customer. Julie recognizes the customer as the motorbike driver who had been following them the previous Sunday and the young man with the ponytail at Paul's birthday dinner. Mr. Long chats with the driver, saying he must never work as he's at the tea house in the morning and afternoon.
The young man with the ponytail says he can't help but visit the tea house so often as Mr. Long makes the best tea cakes of San Francisco. The young man sees the girls with Po Po and Gung Gung and nods at them, telling them he often comes to the tea house for study breaks. Mrs. Wu compliments the young man, Jimmy Yep, on his study habits and hopes he'll talk to Lonny about attending college.
Julie asks Jimmy about his studies, which prompts Ivy to nudge her for her rudeness. He says he's studying history, and Mr. Long adds that Jimmy is currently writing his master's thesis about Chinese immigration to America. Jimmy says he might turn his thesis into a book one day, adding that living in Chinatown has greatly aided him in his research with many firsthand accounts. He tells Po Po her story about Angel Island was fascinating.
Julie accuses Jimmy of following her and Ivy around town, which prompts Jimmy to become puzzled. He says that while he has seen the girls during his interviews with some of the elder immigrants, he wonders why he would be following them. Ivy nudges Julie to keep silent, which she does. Julie thinks Jimmy could be bluffing if he knew where Mei and the rag doll was, but if he had nothing to do with the missing dolls then their encounters were just coincidences. She sees Gung Gung and Po Po don't seem to be suspicious of Jimmy, with Gung Gung asking Jimmy about his classes and Po Po offering him a chance to visit the Happy Panda again for another interview about Angel Island.
Julie becomes uneasy. She gets up and asks Mr. Long if she can use his phone to call Tracy to pick her up. Gung Gung offers to drive both Julie and Ivy home, saying there's no need to bother either Mrs. Albright or Mrs. Ling. Once everyone have said their goodbyes, the girls follow Gung Gung out to the parking lot and get in his car. Julie sees Mrs. Chan as they pass her by.
Once Gung Gung's car arrives at Gladrags, Julie thanks him for the ride and gets out. When she reaches the apartment door she can hear the vacuum cleaner being used, and has to yell over the noise that she's home. Mom says there's still a lot to be done in preparation for Olivia's arrival. Julie apologizes, saying the time it took to research and find Mei's whereabouts took longer than expected. Although Mom is sympathetic to Julie's efforts in finding Mei, Julie has yet to finish cleaning out her room. Julie feels her mother doesn't understand how important it was to find Mei. The thief who stole Li Ming and Yue Yan is still on the loose looking for Mei and the rag doll, and Julie feels the thief isn't going to wait for her to finish cleaning out her room for Olivia.
Chapter Thirteen: Intruder!
On Wednesday, Ivy calls Julie and tells her Po Po's had a chance to talk with Mei at the convalescent hospital by phone. The Lius have not only invited Po Po and Gung Gung to visit them, but the girls as well on Friday afternoon. When Friday comes, Julie is impatient to leave school. Mrs. Duncan reminds Julie that there's a student council meeting after school and as president, Julie has to be present. Julie makes it a short council meeting, and when it's over, Julie goes to meet Ivy and her grandparents. They take the BART train to Oakland.
At the Rockridge station, they're greeted by a lanky Asian man. He introduces himself as Bill Liu, shaking their hands. He motions a girl about Julie and Ivy's age to join him, and he introduces the girl as his daughter, Deanna. Gung Gung introduces himself, Po Po, and the girls, and thanks Mr. Liu for meeting with them. Mr. Liu tells everyone to get in his station wagon, and that the convalescent hospital isn't very far. Deanna says they've been trying to convince Mei to move in to the Lius' house once she's discharged from the hospital, then reminds Mr. Liu they should stop by Mei's home and get the library books. Mr. Liu says they'll stop on the way.
When the group reaches Mei's home, Deanna says it's going to be hard for Mei to stay as there are too many stairs. Mr. Liu tells Deanna he hadn't brought the key to Mei's house, but she knows where Mei hid the spare key and to just get the library books. Julie and Ivy offer to help Deanna with the task, and the three girls get out of the car. Deanna finds the spare key from a houseplant, but Julie points out Deanna probably won't need to use the key as the window's open. Deanna finds it strange the window is open.
The girls head inside the house, and Deanna goes to the living room to shut the window. She tells Julie and Ivy the library books are in Mei's bedroom. Ivy sees the shelves in the hallway connecting Mei's bedroom and the kitchen are lined with dolls, and asks Deanna if Mei's a doll collector. Deanna says her grandmother probably has a doll from every country in the world, before she breaks off abruptly at the sight of a doll on the floor. She picks the doll up, wondering how it got knocked off the shelf.
The girls hear a thud at the back of the house, followed by a scraping sound. Julie realizes someone's at the house, and Deanna and Ivy flee back to the car to alert Mr. Liu. Julie continues to head down the hallway towards the noise and sees a door partially open. She can see a well-made bed and a bookshelf lined with dolls, except a few that were either knocked over or lying on the floor. Julie also sees that the bedroom window is wide open and a colored glass suncatcher shattered in pieces. She runs across the room, looks out the window, and manages to get a glimpse of something green running through the underbrush, the trees, and onto the road.
Mr. Liu appears and after he assesses the situation, he decides to call the police. Gung Gung scolds Julie for not leaving the house, and Julie apologizes, saying she wanted to see who the intruder was. Mr. Liu asks if Julie saw anything and she answers the person was wearing green. Julie suddenly remembers Mrs. Chan had been wearing a green scarf the day they visited Angel Island, as well as Mrs. Chan's passion for collecting dolls.
Mr. Liu goes to pick up the phone, then remembers he had the phone service cut when Mei was sent to the hospital. He decides they'll go visit Mei and he'll be able to file a police report there. After looking around one more time, he says while the situation is upsetting, nothing seems to have been stolen or sustained major damage, with the exception of the suncatcher. He almost picks up one of the dolls, then decides that everything should be left untouched so the police will be able to process the crime scene.
Gung Gung is proud the girls were able to scare off a possible intruder, and tells Mr. Liu about the break-in at the restaurant apartment and how Julie and Ivy's dolls were stolen. Mr. Liu is puzzled as to why the thief would want to steal dolls. Julie asks Mr. Liu if Mei had a special doll, and Mr. Liu answers that Mei regards all the dolls in her collection as special; some of the dolls are valuable antiques. Julie asks if Mei has a rag doll, and Deanna says Mei did have an old rag doll that was brought over from China. The rag doll is usually at Mei's bedside table, but when Julie goes to look, all she finds is a lamp and a phone. Julie believes the thief managed to find what they were looking for—the rag doll. Mr. Liu reminds Deanna to get Mei's library books, and they return to the car. While everyone is talking about visiting Mei, what happened at Mei's house, and calling the police to report the crime, Julie thinks about how the thief must be rejoicing in their victory on being able to steal the rag doll.
At the convalescent hospital, Mr. Liu asks the receptionist if he can use their phone to report the break-in at Mei's house. Deanna leads everyone else to Mei's room, and calls her name. They hear a voice respond back in Chinese, and everyone but Julie laughs. Deanna tells Julie Mei wants them in her room and be quick about it. Po Po enters Mei's room first, and the two elderly women hold hands, speaking in rapid Chinese. Po Po then introduces Gung Gung, Ivy, and Julie to Mei. Mei tells Ivy and Julie they must be two clever girls to reunite two old friends right before Chinese New Year and they must tell her all about it. Mei calls for a nurse to bring more chairs for her guests.
Once Mr. Liu joins the group, Julie and Ivy recount their stories about the discovery of Po Po's coaching note, how Po Po and Gung Gung's apartment was ransacked and the girls' dolls stolen by mistake. They tell Mei they think the thief was really after the rag doll, Kai. Mei is surprised at the thought the thief would want Kai. Ivy says they think they know why the thief wanted the rag doll, but they won't know as Kai has been stolen.
Mei wonders why Kai would have been stolen, and says Kai has always been her good-luck doll since receiving it from Po Po at Angel Island. She adds Kai was the best good-luck gift and the first doll she had ever received, and while Mei has collected many fancy dolls over the years, Kai still remains her dearest. Julie apologizes for the theft of Kai, saying if she had gotten to the bedroom faster she might have been able to prevent Kai from being stolen and save the treasure.
Chapter Fourteen: Buried Treasure
Mei is piqued at Julie's mention of treasure. Julie explains the thief might have figured out from Po Po's coaching note something precious was hidden inside Kai, hence the theft of Julie and Ivy's dolls and their popped heads. Gung Gung said he had thought about it, but kept quiet. Po Po is puzzled at Julie's thoughts.
Julie says Po Po's mother may have hidden the jade necklace inside the rag doll Po Po was supposed to give to her father upon arrival. Po Po is surprised that her mother would send the necklace with her but not tell her about it. Julie says Po Po's mother had written about it in the coaching note as a code to Po Po's father, but since the coaching note had been lost, Po Po's father never got to read the note. Po Po frets that since Kai is now gone, they won't know for sure whether or not the doll really did contain the jade necklace.
Mei shakes her head, saying she always took Kai with her for luck, even bringing the rag doll with her during her hip operation. Julie is surprised that the doll hadn't been stolen and is still in Mei's possession. Mei asks Deanna to get her suitcase, and Mei retrieves the doll. She calls a nurse to bring a pair of scissors, and gives the doll to Po Po. Po Po gives the doll to Julie, saying she gets the honors for finding the coaching note. Once Julie has Mei's permission to open the doll up, she takes the scissors from the nurse and carefully snips the stitches at the doll's neck. When the seam opens up, Julie begins to probe the inside of the doll, and feels a hard lump among the stuffing. She gently pulls out the wadded stuffing and hands it to Po Po.
Po Po unwraps the stuffing and sees it's the jade necklace. Mei can't believe the necklace had been hidden inside the doll the entire time. Po Po realizes the jade necklace was essentially her father's fortune, and since Po Po's mother was unable to immigrate to America, she sent the necklace with Po Po without telling her. Gung Gung consoles Po Po, saying her mother probably had thought hiding the necklace inside the doll would be the safest thing. Po Po says her father could have used the money the necklace could have brought had it been discovered much earlier, and Mei apologizes, saying if she had known the doll held such a valuable treasure she would have tracked Po Po down to return it. Po Po says the necklace was meant to be sold, with the money to help them out in their lives upon immigrating to America. Despite the financial, social, and cultural hardships, they've managed to make the best of their lives even without the necklace. Po Po's words suddenly remind Julie about Olivia, and she feels bad about her attitude towards her mother's friend.
Po Po says since her parents had intended for the necklace to be sold, she will do so and share the money with Mei. Mei protests, saying the necklace belongs to Po Po. Po Po refuses, saying Mei deserved half the money for having been a good guardian to Kai for the past 58 years. Po Po tells Ivy to get a pen and notebook from her purse so she can get Mei's contact information. Ivy retrieves a pen, notebook, and a Green Hornet topper from Po Po's purse. Ivy and Julie recognize the topper from Lonny's cake, and Julie suddenly becomes uneasy. Ivy says she'll be able to give the topper to Lonny at Chinese school the next day, or at the Valentine Disco, which catches Deanna's attention. Julie says Deanna should come to the disco as the dance is a fund-raiser for homeless teens, families are invited, and the high school kids will be teaching the latest dance moves. She looks at Mr. Liu and says they should come, as Tracy is still looking for a few more chaperones for the disco. Deanna begs her father for permission to go to the disco.
As Julie watches the happy scenes happen around her, she can't help but feel something's still off balance. She looks out the window, thinking about how the thief and intruder is still on the loose.
Chapter Fifteen: Dancers--and Answers
On Saturday morning, Julie and Mom are in the kitchen. Mom is leafing through a cookbook trying to decide what to cook for Olivia for a welcoming meal. Tracy is working on rolling dough for a cherry pie, and Julie tells Mom and Tracy about the jade necklace as she eats breakfast. Mom says she can't wait to see the necklace and is sure Olivia feels the same when they go to the Happy Panda next week. She starts to write out a grocery list and tells the girls to make up Olivia's bed when she goes to work at Gladrags. Once she's done with business at Gladrags, she'll drop the girls off at the disco on her way to the airport. Tracy says it sounds good before putting the pie into the oven.
The girls head to Julie's room. Tracy suggests they should put out some scented candles to welcome Olivia. Julie demands why Tracy seems to be interested in Olivia all of a sudden as they replace the bedsheets, and Tracy answers they should just give Olivia a chance. Julie thinks it's going to be awful with Olivia around, and Tracy says maybe not. Mom had mentioned Olivia had spent much of her life looking after her father and she's ready for a fresh start, using Mom's apartment as her launching pad. Once they're done making the bed, Tracy goes to check on her pie.
Julie looks at her room one last time, then heads to Tracy's room. She finds Tracy on the floor, painting a "Welcome Julie" poster. Tracy looks over her shoulder and tells Julie she wasn't supposed to come in until Olivia arrived. Julie is amazed at Tracy's efforts to accommodate her. Tracy says it was only going to be for two months, then shoos Julie out. Julie goes back to her bedroom and wonders if Olivia will feel at ease in Mom's apartment, then returns to Tracy's bedroom to ask for art supplies.
Later that day, Julie heads to the Valentine Disco at the high school gym. She finds Mr. Liu, his wife, and Deanna by the food table. Deanna wishes Mei could have come to the disco, and Ivy the same for her grandparents. Julie says the dancers are teaching the moves for the Hustle, and Deanna and Ivy join her. Julie feels she could dance all night, and during the middle of the Electric Slide Tracy pulls Julie out of the dance to point out Mom's arrived with Olivia. The girls head to the food table where Mom and Olivia are, and Julie's surprised Olivia's appearance seems different from what she had envisioned over the phone. The girls introduce themselves to Olivia, and Olivia tells them they're kind for letting her move into Mom's apartment and hopes they'll be good friends.
A new song starts up, and Tracy offers to teach everyone the Funky Chicken. Julie offers to help Olivia learn the dance. As the dances continue, Julie begins to feel dizzy. As the various boys yell out the names of the dances, Lonny yells out his new dance, the Green Hornet. Julie suddenly remembers the green-wearing intruder at Mei's house and realizes Lonny was behind the thefts and break-ins. Julie stops Lonny in the middle of his dance, and as she's about to accuse Lonny for his actions, Lonny bolts and tries to flee the gym but runs into Mr. Liu. He asks Julie if there's anything wrong. Julie then accuses Lonny of the thefts and break-ins at the restaurant apartment and Mei's house, and Lonny says she can't prove it.
Julie says the birthday cake was what tipped her off, when Lonny forgot to eat his cake or take his topper with him and had to ask Ivy to see if Po Po had it. Lonny also had a good look at the coaching note when Ivy asked him to translate it, which mentioned the doll that was supposed to bless Po Po and her father with riches, and after he had heard Po Po mention the jade necklace that was supposedly not sent with her, he figured out the necklace was hidden inside the doll. However, he had no idea what kind of a doll to look for, and stole Li Ming and Yue Yan, only to discard them at the Happy Panda and at Chinese school when he found nothing. Lonny had also heard the conversation at the tea house and decided to track Mei and the doll down first, with additional information from Mrs. Wu when she worked the day the girls told Po Po and Gung Gung about finding Mei. Lonny says Julie's making things up, which infuriates her. She says if they hadn't been at the house he would've popped off every head in Mei's doll collection. She does admit that Lonny was right since the jade necklace had been hidden inside the rag doll. Julie figured out Lonny was looking for the necklace since his father was struggling to find a job and the Wus needed the money.
Lonny tries to justify his actions, saying his actions doesn't amount to stealing if no one found out an item went missing and if someone left their house unlocked. Mr. Liu interrupts, saying he made sure he had locked the doors to Mei's house when she was sent to the hospital. Lonny points out the window to Mei's house was open, which gives him away. After a long silence, Julie points out he must have been the intruder at Mei's house otherwise he wouldn't have known one of the windows was open. Lonny tries to apologize for his actions, saying he didn't take anything, only for Julie to retort it was because he wasn't able to find what he was looking for.
As Mr. Liu takes Lonny away to the office to contact the Wus, Julie feels bad she's gotten Lonny into a lot of trouble just because of his family's financial problems. She tries to focus her mind on the good parts, such as reuniting Po Po and Mei after they had lost touch with one another, and the discovery of the jade necklace in the rag doll. When the dances are over, Julie returns to Mom and Olivia, and everyone gets ready to go home.
Discusses Angel Island and how 19th- and 20-century Chinese immigrants were treated historically. Topics discussed:
- How people viewed Angel Island as a state park in the 1970s in comparison to Chinese immigrants who were detained as well as Chinese Americans
- The first Chinese immigrants who came to America because of the California Gold Rush
- Chinese immigrants' contributions to constructing the First Transcontinental Railroad in the 1860s
- Racial prejudice against the Chinese due to their appearance, dress, and customs
- The passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act, restricting Chinese immigration to relatives already living in America and certain occupations
- How Chinese immigrants got around the Act, such as paying citizens to file papers pretending to claim immigrants as "paper sons" and "paper daughters"
- The carved poetry in the barrack walls that described the treatment of Chinese immigrants detained at Angel Island by immigration officials
- The closure of the Immigration Station and the repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act
- The formation of Angel Island as a state park in 1963 and the decision to save the buildings from destruction in 1970 following the discovery of the carved poems
- Angel Island as a state park today
- ↑ In Chapter 1, Julie finds the note prior to attending Paul Chan's birthday party, with both events happening on the same day. In Chapter 7, it's mentioned to be a Sunday morning when Julie recalls seeing a guest at The Happy Panda the previous Friday. Since Julie and Tracy are talking about the Valentine Disco in Chapter 1, there are only two Fridays before Valentine's Day, the 4th and the 11th. In Chapters 13 and 14, Julie spends the entirety of February 11th at school and in Oakland, leaving the 4th the only other Friday.
- ↑ The Valentine Disco is held on a Saturday. The closest Saturday to Valentine's Day was the 12th.
- ↑ Pg. 109: "'How was anyone to know that my dwelling place would be a prison?'" The line comes from the Ox Poem and is a translation provided by the book Island: Poetry and History of Chinese Immigrants on Angel Island, 1910-1940.