Scholastic Canada Query Letter

May 12, 1999

The Editors, Publishing Division
Scholastic Canada Ltd.
175 Hillmount Road
Markham, Ontario L6C 1Z7

Dear Editor:

The early morning mist rolled gently off of the Whangpoo River, up the riverbank and onto The Bund, the main street of Shanghaiís International Settlement. Ming found it amazing that clean, white mist could come off a river that was so yellow and filthy.

There was a constant, bewildering sound of music in the air. The carrier coolies chanting to lighten their heavy loads and regulate their breathing, the subdued singing of men and women poling their sampans across the river. Ming had no song in her heart today.

Liang Ming had come to Shanghai with several other women from the village. They had bananas, small and green, and ripe pomelos to sell at the market. Ming had another reason to be in the city. She carried a tiny bundle that she held close to her breast. The baby girl was only a day old. She hadnít thought she could feel so much love for such a little creature. Yet she had fed it with the milk of her body, and she felt the bond strengthen with every beat of her daughterís heart.

In "Bullets on the Bund", a mystery novel for young adults, the main character Autumn Jade was adopted from Shanghai, China when she was a year old. She now lives, present time, in Vancouver with her adoptive parents and her disobedient dog Watson. The fictitious story of Liang Ming abandoning her newborn baby is a strangely compelling dream for Autumn. At 11 years old, the issues surrounding Autumnís own abandonment have become important to her. Autumn has other vivid dreams that provide the reader with a historically accurate picture of life in Shanghai circa 1932 (Autumnís favourite subject) while helping her solve an exciting mystery.

The story begins with Autumn Jade and her best friend Adam trying to find the owner of a small white dog. They discover the dog wearing a heavy backpack while it single-mindedly limps through a local park. Since there isnít an owner in sight, they attempt to catch the dog. It manages to avoid them and disappears into the woods. As they search for the dogís owner, Autumn and Adam uncover a disturbing number of missing dogs, many seen by local residents wearing similar backpacks. Where does the trail lead? Is there something suspicious going on at the Happy Puppy Obedience School where Autumn and Watson are taking a beginnerís obedience course? Autumnís Shanghai dreams will help her solve the mystery of "Bullets on the Bund".

My wife and I adopted our first daughter from China last year; the paperwork for our second child is already on its way. North American parents adopt over 6000 baby girls from China every year -- what will they read as they get older? I would be happy to submit my manuscript as an addition to your fine catalogue of young adult books. Enclosed is a self-addressed stamped envelope for your reply. I look forward to hearing from you soon. Thanks.

Sincerely,

Steve Whan