The New York Times
Pet Dragon: A Story about Adventure, Friendship, and Chinese Charactersby Christoph Niemann
Meet Lin and her pet dragon! When the dragon mysteriously disappears, Lin sets off on a journey to find her best friend . . . and readers set off on a journey of learning and discovery. By ingeniously integrating written Chinese characters into the illustrations as the story progresses, Christoph Niemann has created a book that is engrossing, unique
Meet Lin and her pet dragon! When the dragon mysteriously disappears, Lin sets off on a journey to find her best friend . . . and readers set off on a journey of learning and discovery. By ingeniously integrating written Chinese characters into the illustrations as the story progresses, Christoph Niemann has created a book that is engrossing, unique, and memorable. The Pet Dragon is a playful introduction to the fascinating world of Chinese language and culture . . . and a terrific story to share with children everywhere. You are invited to join Lin for an adventure you will not soon forget!
The New York Times
Niemann (The Police Cloud) introduces readers to 33 Chinese characters via an ingenious, breezy tale about a spunky heroine named Lin who's searching for her runaway pet dragon. Throughout Lin's quest, Niemann superimposes bold, black Chinese characters over key images or other elements in his super-smooth digital graphics. When Lin herself is introduced, for example, the character for "person" is overlaid on her figure, allowing readers to see how it evokes the outline of a body and two legs. Unlike authors of conventional primers, Niemann doesn't try to directly incorporate the special vocabulary into his story (the text doesn't refer to Lin as a "person"). Nor does he adhere to the expected icon-to-object correspondence every time: as he notes in his genial introduction, some of the match-ups reflect his own imagination at play (the character for "work" takes the shape of an I-beam at a construction site). As a result, the pages reflect not only Niemann's cleverness, but also his sense of discovery and his enthusiasm. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Lin, a young Chinese girl, receives a baby dragon for a gift. The two of them play together until they accidentally break a vase. Lin's father is so angry that he insists the little creature be caged. The dragon escapes, and Lin goes to look for it. With the help of an old woman, a witch, she finds it living with the other dragons in the clouds, and grown up. The dragon returns Lin to her home, and her father agrees that they can visit often. Though the story is thin, the book is clever. Its purpose is to introduce the Chinese language, and it succeeds admirably. Each page contains one or more Chinese characters, which appear not only at the bottom with the English translation, but also superimposed on the drawings. In this way, Niemann emphasizes the connection between the lines of the character and the object it represents. The stylized illustrations are jaunty and appealing, and the use of red, a color representing good fortune in China, visually unifies the tale from beginning to end. Playful and humorous in his approach, Niemann includes some of the icons of Chinese culture, past and present-dragons, the Great Wall, Ping-Pong, and the ever-present giant cranes that are building modern China. Now that Mandarin is becoming a popular language choice in forward-looking communities, this title is sure to please.-Barbara Scotto, Children's Literature New England, Brookline, MA
Meet the Author
Christoph Niemann is also the creator of the picture books Subway, The Pet Dragon, and The Police Cloud, as well as the blog Abstract City at www.newyorktimes.com. He has illustrated covers for the New Yorker, the Atlantic, and the New York Times Magazine. The artist lives with his family in Berlin, Germany, and New York City.
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