cover image The City of Dragons

The City of Dragons

Laurence Yep. Scholastic, $14.95 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-590-47865-6

``Once there was a boy with the saddest face in the world. Even when he was happy, everyone who saw him thought he must be sad, and they became sad, too.'' Embellishing the memory of an disfigured, outcast boy of his childhood with folklore from southern China, Yep deftly crafts an imaginative moral tale. Shunned because of his disturbing appearance although he is both polite and good, the boy runs away with a band of giants that hunts for pearls--the tears of dragons. The jaded dragons are impervious to the saddest of the giants' tales; but when they see the boy's sorrowful face, they weep bowlfuls and the boy, returning home with the gems, receives a hero's welcome. Just as the author does with his dialogue, the Tsengs (illustrators of Yep's The Boy Who Swallowed Snakes) spike their exotic, mystical watercolors with just enough humor to leaven a potentially heavy theme--the value and power of one's uniqueness. Fresh, unusual and impressive, this is a worthy addition to the ever-expanding Yep collection. Ages 5-9. (Sept.)