Li Jun and the Iron Road


CCBC’s Best Books for Kids & Teens (Spring 2016) — Commended

From the award-winning movie comes a story of courage and forbidden love.

It’s 1882 in southern China. Li Jun, a feisty homeless girl disguised as a boy called Little Tiger, works in a fireworks factory and yearns to sail across the ocean to the mysterious Gold Mountain in faraway British Columbia to find her long-lost father and fulfill her promise to her dying mother.

She joins thousands of Chinese men blasting a path for the new railway through the “impassable” Rocky Mountains. There she faces danger, deceit, and prejudice at every turn. Then, defying all the rules, she falls in love with James, the son of the railway tycoon.

Should she reveal her true identity to him? Coming from such different worlds, could they make a life together?


CCBC’s Best Books for Kids and Teens (Spring 2016)


Action and romance—what more do you want? Iron Road rivals The Pianist in significance...both stories give a face to those nameless and voiceless who perished.

Toronto Star

Li Jun epitomizes the feminist dream of equality. An important novel, essential reading for anyone interested in the early history of Canada.

The Honourable Dr. Vivienne Poy, Canada’s first Chinese-Canadian senator

The novel’s strength lies in its depiction of the miserable working conditions endured by the Chinese workers who built Canada's railways in the 1880s. As well, through the eyes of a young woman, readers see the discrimination against Chinese people in Canada and the circumscribed roles for women at that time … [a] worthy addition to schools and public libraries.

Canadian Materials

History comes to life in this gripping page-turner as the spirited heroine searches for her father in Gold Mountain.

Arlene Chan, Chinese Historian and Author

This is the best kind of historical fiction, in which the story wells up through the actions of powerful characters, and stunning landscapes both in China and in Canada grip readers with terrifying possibilities that keep them glued to the page.

Resource Links

Ending with an exciting climax of discovery and reconciliation, Li Jun and the Iron Road vividly describes a darker time in Canadian history while one of our greatest technological achievements of nationhood was being created.

Canadian Teacher Magazine

About the Authors

Anne Tait

Posted by Kendra on January 20, 2015
Anne Tait photo

Anne Tait

Anne Tait is a movie producer, a writer for stage, screen, and print, a broadcaster, and a casting director. She has cast feature films and major television shows including Anne of Green Gables, Road to Avonlea, and Goosebumps.

Paulette Bourgeois

Posted by Kendra on January 20, 2015
Paulette Bourgeois photo

Paulette Bourgeois

Paulette Bourgeois is a former occupational therapist and journalist, and a writer of award-winning fiction and non-fiction for children and young adults. She is best known as the co-creator of Franklin the Turtle. Bourgeois is a member of the Order of Canada. She lives in Toronto.