The Water Dragon: A Chinese Legend

Li Jian. Better Link Press (Tuttle, dist.), $16.95 (42p) ISBN 978-1-6022-0978-7
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Newcomer Jian retells a Chinese legend well-timed for 2012, the year of the Water Dragon. Ah Bao, a country boy, finds a lucky red stone that supplies him with more rice and money than he can use, but that also dries up all the rain. He dreams of a Water Dragon “dancing in the clouds and showering the land with much needed water,” and sets off to find it, meeting creatures who offer him pieces of their skin, claws, horns—equipment, apparently, for a fight with the “greedy red monster” each creature says Ah Bao will meet. Instead, oddly, Ah Bao swallows his red stone and becomes the Water Dragon himself, and the skin, claws, and other items become part of him. It’s an unexpected twist, as if David had swallowed his slingshot and turned into Goliath. Ah Bao the Water Dragon brings rain to the land, but the story ends there; no word on what dragon life is like, or whether the human boy returns. A translation into Chinese characters appears on every page, making it a fine language instruction tool. Ages 4–8. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/27/2012
Release date: 04/01/2012
Genre: Children's
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