The *checks* 1933 Newbery Award winner.
It regards a boy and his mother who are forced to move due to the overflowing Yellow River in China. She's from wealth, and thus has her feet bound and has to be carried in a sedan, but is running out of money.
Young Fu becomes apprenticed to a fellow (I can't remember quite in what offhand, I'm not sure the book's even in print, though I mean to pick it up if it is), and through adventures with gambling, smugglers, and other such things comes out successful on the other end.
It's a definite coming of age type story, but occuring in China, with a great deal of cultural references, which most kids will never run into. Plus it was written in such a way that anybody with an imagination will definitely be able to see themselves there...possibly one of my favorite Newbery novels.