cover image Dragon Mountain (Dragon Realm #1)

Dragon Mountain (Dragon Realm #1)

Katie Tsang and Kevin Tsang. Sterling, $16.95 (240p) ISBN 978-1-4549-3596-4

When 12-year-old San Franciscan Billy Chan is sent to summer camp in “middle-of-nowhere China” to explore his Chinese heritage and improve his Mandarin, he worries about being judged for his language skills, even though his father speaks Cantonese, not Mandarin. He’s quickly grouped with three other kids: the enthusiastic Dylan O’Donnell, from Ireland; Charlotte Bell, an overachieving pageant winner from the American South; and enthusiastic Liu Ling-Fei, a local resident. During an early team-building competition, the quartet experiences mysterious phenomena that include a vanishing tiger, and later stumbles across the mountain’s greatest secret: a cave of four dragons who say that the survival of dragon and human realms relies on a difficult-to-attain “dragon-human bond.” As each of the four bonds with a dragon, receiving fantastical gifts and powers, Billy and his friends learn they must defeat the malevolent Dragon of Death once and for all. With this series opener, married cocreators the Tsangs (the Sam Wu is Not Afraid of... series) kick off an adventure inspired loosely by Chinese folklore and focusing on the power of friendship, loyalty, and skill. Fast-paced and engaging, this tale emphasizes adventure over complexity, easily appealing to a young audience. While the portrayals rely on stock archetypes, the characters have room to grow in future installments. Ages 8–12. Agent: Claire Wilson, RCW. (Oct.)