cover image The River Dragon

The River Dragon

Darcy Pattison. HarperCollins Publishers, $13.95 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-688-10426-9

Drawing on elements of Chinese dragon lore, Pattison injects this bang-up original folktale with a ring of authenticity. Her story is presented in the traditional ``trial'' form: Ying Shao, a humble blacksmith, must cross the river dragon's bridge on three consecutive nights in order to see his betrothed. Ying Shao's sly father-in-law- to-be, not at all thrilled with the upcoming nuptials, feeds the youth swallows in every way, shape and form (everyone knows dragons adore swallows) in hopes the dragon will devour him on the way home. Aided by helpful hints tucked in fortune cookies, however, Ying Shao manages to outwit the beast each time, and in a final, mighty confrontation, destroys him. Pattison writes with confidence and grace, her smashing debut buoyed by the Tsengs' ( The Seven Chinese Brothers ) luminous watercolors, which feature amusingly expressive characters and a truly monstrous dragon. Ages 5-up. (Sept.)