Moon Shadow, a young chinese boy, is brainwashed by his mother and grandmother that all people in San Francisco in America are “Demons. ” Moon Shadow’s father lives in America, but whenever he asks his mother or grandmother about him, they always find an excuse to try to not to talk about it. Moon Shadow then tells them that he wants to go to America to see his father. When Moon Shadow arrives to America, he is introduced to all of his father’s friends including his uncle. His father’s nickname is Windrider.
After they are introduced, Windrider takes them to the Company, which is where they live. After a few minutes of being there, the “demons” start getting drunk and break into the two front windows on the first floor. One night, Windrider tells Moon Shadow of how he got his name. The story was of a dream that Windrider had of a himself and the Dragon King, who both fly to his palace. Their, they discus of several things on why he is no longer a dragon, but a mortal. Then, once they are done talking, the Dragon King sends Windrider back to the mortal world.
The next day, the Company realizes that Black Dog, Uncle Bright Stars son, has been gone for ten days when they realize that he is involved into gang activity again. That night Windrider sneaks out of the Company and Moon Shadow follows his. Windrider gets into a fight with Black Dog then knocks him out. When Windrider realizes that Moon Shadow followed him, he tells Moon Shadow to take all of Black Dogs things. The Company wants to try to help Black Dog with drugs and gangs, but it didn’t help. One day, in town, Moon Shadow meets up with Black Dog and they walk back to the Company.
While walking, Black Dog tells Moon Shadow of how they got opium. The story he told him was of a farmer that beat his wife and she fell ill of sadness. She later died. One day, the farmer realized a flower growing on her grave. Inside the flower was a small round fruit. The fruit was the opium, or “medicine. ” Windrider and Moon Shadow decided to leave the Company and live with the Whitlaws, who are American. When they finally meet the “demoness,” as they called them, were actually really nice to them. After the two family become familiar with each other the Whitlaws try to teach Moon Shadow more English, the best they could.
Moon Shadow then taught them about dragons in the Tang people culture, but mainly about Windriders dream, to fly. Miss Whitlaw then feels that she wants to help accomplish Windriders dream, so she writes a letter to the Wright brothers. When the Wright brothers respond back, he becomes furious to what he has done. The next day he becomes happy again and decides to write back. As they send letters back and forth, the bigger Windrider starts to build his glider models. With one of his glider models, he takes it with them to a picnic with the Whitlaws and lets everyone fly it.
After everyone ate and flew the glider, he attached a poem to it which was made by Lefty, one of his good friends, and cuts the string. It was in ordinary day at around 5:00 AM when Moon Shadow went to get a bucket of water from the outside pump when suddenly the ground started to move and shake under his feet along with everything else. After the second wave, Moon Shadow realized it was in earthquake. Miss Whitlaw and other people tried to save people from their houses of ruble. Later, they settled in a camp with other survivors. After a few days, demon soldiers started to take out all the Tang people and relocate them.
After several days of moving from place to place, the demons shipped them all back to the Tang peoples town, Chinatown, into a safe building. Windrider then makes the announcement that he will be leaving to try to make his dream come true. After saying this, Moon Shadow says he wants to go with him to build the flying machine. After several weeks of working on the flying machine they finally finish it and name it Dragonwings. The next day, Black Dog comes around and asks Moon Shadow for money but he refuses. Black dog gets furious and threatens him of hurting r killing him.
Windrider rushes in and give him the money so that he could go away. The next day, the landlord came to collect rent but realized they had no money and gave them three days to make up the money. On their last day, Windrider decided it was time to fly Dragonwings. Everyone was there. It was a perfect flight when suddenly a bolt on the propeller came loose. Dragonwings then turn and crashed into the side of a hill. Thankfully, Windrider was fine. Several weeks later he decide to get his wife from the Middle Kingdom, China, and bring her to America.