Children's Literature - Meredith KigerOn Chinese New Year's eve a little girl can't sleep because of all the noise from the fireworks. Her grandmother tries comforting her by telling her the story of how the dragon became a central figure in Chinese culture. Many years ago in China, a dragon would rise from the sea once a year to come ashore to eat. The people who lived near the sea would escape inland to avoid the dragon. An old woman whose fisherman son had been devoured by the dragon decides not to leave for safety as she feels she has nothing else to live for. Just before the dragon comes ashore, the Buddha himself implores the old woman to join him in challenging the dragon. While the old woman prepares a meal, the Buddha builds a bonfire. When the dragon arrives, the flames from the bonfire appear in an image of the old woman's son. He fights the dragon and wins, banishing him forever. The Buddha praises the old woman's kindness and courage in helping to make China safe from the dragon. The young girl falls asleep amid all the noise. The wonderful paintings of Chinese life, both old and new, add mystery to this tale of love and courage. The vocabulary is sometimes challenging, and may need some explanation to the intended audience.
Library Journal - Library JournalGr 1-4-An original story that explains why the Chinese make noise and explode fireworks to celebrate a new year. The book begins in modern times, with a grandmother telling her granddaughter the reason for the commotion that frightens her on New Year's Eve. In "olden days," she says, people fled their village at the turn of the year, dreading the annual visit of a man-eating dragon named New Year. After watching the creature devour her fisherman son stranded at sea, a grieving old woman refuses to flee the following year. Offering hospitality to a mysterious stranger who turns out to be the Buddha, she is told how to use fire and noise to fend off the dragon. The wordy text is accompanied by large, flamboyant paintings reminiscent of oil works by European old masters, well composed and dramatic, but overpowering. In fact, the narrative seems contrived as a vehicle to showcase the art. An author's note offers brief information on the Buddha, dragons in Chinese folklore, and traditional Chinese New Year customs. Not a first purchase.-Margaret A. Chang, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, North Adams Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Write a Review
and post it to your social network
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews >