At the turn of the century, a young boy living in China with his mother, travels to San Francisco, California, "Land of the Golden Mountain," to be with his father, Windrider, a kite maker who immigrated there a few years earlier to take advantage of the West Coast's booming expansionism. Now a laundryman, Windrider hopes to save enough money to bring his entire family over to the United States, but as his son Moon Shadow discovers, Windrider's heart really lies in his dream of building a flying machine like that of the Wright brothers. Spurred on by the conviction that he was once a dragon in a former incarnation, Windrider tinkers in his makeshift workshop, building model after model of seemingly magical flying machines, much to the wonderment of Moon Shadow. Surviving in the western world, however, demands that more crucial lessons be learned. There are racists attacks by angry San Francisco natives who resent the ever-increasing presence of the Chinese; there are tensions between Moon Shadow and the father he hardly knows; and eventually, father and son will face the devastation of the 1906 earthquake which destroys their home and forces even more grueling trials upon them. Through it all, and with the help of two Americans who believe in them, Windrider and Moon Shadow do build their flying machine and forge a deeper relationship. The results of their labor, though, will ultimately force Windrider to make a courageous decision about his and his family's future in the West.
A Chinese parable play following Moon Shadow as he journeys to America where he explores a new land, a new relationship with a father he didn't know and the diversity of two cultures. "DRAGONWINGS…just might move youngsters to sample its imagination-filled adventure on stage and page…it is a potent argument for taking a breather from videotapes…" —Washington Times. "Yep has created a funny, fast-moving, and ingeniously staged drama from his young reader's book about a Chinese-American aviator." —San Francisco Bay Guardian.