Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
Peter Chang is filled with dread, he has to spend the summer with his dour Great Aunt in Chinatown. Then he discovers a dilapidated dragon in a shop and asks his Great Aunt to buy it with a promise that he will clean it up. So begins Peter's adventures in Chinatown where he enlists the help of residents and trades his services running errands to restore the ten-man dragon to its former splendor. The story ends with Peter and his new friends enjoying a farewell dinner that is interrupted by the "last dragon" parading through the crowded restaurant and out into the streets.
Children's Literature - Susie Wilde
Peter Chang learns much about culture and community when he barters his skills with people in Chinatown who help him refurbish the last dragon.
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
K-Gr 4-When Peter Chang's parents send him to Chinatown for the summer to stay with his great aunt, he feels alienated and homesick-until he discovers a worn-out dragon, large enough for 10 men to carry, crammed in a shop window. His aunt reluctantly agrees to let him take it home, and he embarks on a summer-long quest to restore the wrecked bundle of silk and wood to its former glory. He involves many others in the project: the tailor, Great Aunt's mahjongg friends, the kitemaker, the herbalist, an artist, and, at last, the Buddhist priest, all of whom are touched by Peter's determination. Watercolor paintings, reminiscent of Ted Lewin's work, lovingly depict in glorious and enticing detail a close-knit Cantonese community in an unnamed big-city Chinatown. Expressions and gestures vividly convey each character's emotion as Peter wins the adults over to his cause. His anxiety and joy, along with the affection and excitement of his elders as the dragon comes to life, light up the book. The well-written text, as substantial as the artwork in specific and authentic detail, draws readers into Peter's new world. A welcome story about contemporary Chinese American life.-Margaret A. Chang, North Adams State College, MA
Although this story features a little boy, its main character is really a Chinese American community. Peter is not happy about spending his summer in Chinatown with his great-aunt. But his feelings begin to change when he spots an old, 10-man dragon in a shop window. With the help of his great-aunt, he acquires the dragon and sets out to repair it. Friends and shopkeepers are enlisted in the task. Mr. Pong the tailor agrees to sew up holes in exchange for Peter running errands; Miss Chiao the kitemaker fixes the tail; and his great-aunt's mah-jongg group gilds the dragon's horns. In the course of making the dragon new again, Peter learns about the people and shops of Chinatown as well as the traditions of his culture. Nunes' text builds to a satisfying conclusion, although it makes an occasional abrupt shift along the way. The expansive watercolor illustrations are warm, colorful, and full of details unique to Chinatown. An endnote provides information on Chinese dragon lore.