Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Pet Dragon: A story about adventure, friendship, and Chinese characters


The Pet Dragon: A story about adventure, friendship, and Chinese characters; Christoph Nieman; New York: Greenwillow Books, 2008; 31pp. Picture book.

When Lin receives a baby dragon as a gift, she gains a new friend. They do everything together until the dragon vanishes one day, which causes Lin to set out on a journey to find him. Will they ever be reunited?

This charming and innoventive book uses pictures in conjection with Chinese characters to tell a story. Nieman's clever layering of the Chinese characters over a corresponding picture is a really wonderful way to both play with the graphic quality of the Chinese kanji. For the Chinese character "person," the kanji symbol is used to create the body of the main character. His pictures are simply illustrated with a sophisticated color palette. Although the story is a bit disjointed, he still managed to make it interesting, especially considering all the kanji that was included. Altogether, this is a fun and interesting book that is a great taste of a bit of Chinese writing and culture.

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