The Pet Dragon: A Story About Adventure, Friendship and Chinese Characters

Christoph Niemann, Author, Christoph Niemann, Illustrator . Greenwillow $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-06-157776-5

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.)

Reviewed on: 09/08/2008
Release date: 08/01/2008
Genre: Children's
Ebook - 40 pages - 978-0-06-193938-9
Library Binding - 28 pages - 978-0-06-157777-2
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