The Painted Boy

Charles de Lint, Viking, $18.99 (448p) ISBN 978-0-670-01191-9
Set in the American Southwest, de Lint's latest successfully blends Chinese and Mexican legends. Jay Li seems like a normal kid from Chicago, but he has a painful secret. At age 11 the image of a dragon suddenly appeared on his back and his grandmother Paupau, the family matriarch ("She's kind of like Marlon Brando in The Godfather"), revealed to him that they were both dragons. Now, however, he has dropped out of school and, with Paupau's encouragement, taken a bus across the country to the town of Santo del Vado Viejo. There he is pursued by gang members who work for the mysterious and possibly supernatural gang lord, El Tigre; Jay must make peace with the local otherworldly beings, master his powers, and defeat El Tigre. Although this contemporary fantasy is a bit talky (perhaps exacerbated by the journal Jay begins partway into the novel, through which he occasionally adds his first-person perspective on events), de Lint (Dingo) is a dependable performer, and this multicultural fusion of a gritty, modern setting with mythological elements should find fans. Ages 12–up. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/18/2010
Release date: 11/01/2010
Genre: Children's
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