Sam Panda and Thunder Dragon

Chris Conover, Author
Chris Conover, Author Farrar Straus Giroux $16 (1p) ISBN 978-0-374-36393-2
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The latest from Conover ( Mother Goose and the Sly Fox ) embodies a plethora of virtues: an original, child-centered tale written in lively language; delicately whimsical illustrations that not only decorate the pages but illuminate the story, offering hours of exploration for eager eyes; and an ingenious design, which even includes an endpaper board game. Imbued with a gentle Oriental flavor, the story begins with Sam Panda's apple orchard in trouble: the rain machine in the sky has broken down. This all changes, however, when Thunder Dragon descends to earth to seek a remedy and by mistake gets caught in a sewing needle on Sam Panda's jacket. As intriguing as any Chinese dragon could be, this one ends up granting his host three wishes, but not before making a considerable impact on the city. Conover's signature style--soft-colored, airbrushed backgrounds with finely drawn images superimposed--is shown to notable advantage here. The illustrations abound with droll details and winning animal characters. Ages 3-8. (Nov.)
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