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Ian Wallace.
Vancouver, BC: Groundwood Books, 1984.
unpaged, paper, $10.95.
ISBN 0-88899-020-0. Distributed by Douglas & McIntyre. CIP.

Subject Heading:
Chinese-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 1-6 / Ages 6-11

Reviewed by Joan E. Weller.

Volume 13 Number 1
1985 January

Ian Wallace, author of the popular The Sandwich (Kids Can Press, 1975), reveals his fine talent both as a watercolourist and a storyteller with this picture book also published by the discerning Margaret K. McElderry Books in the United States and by Methuen in Britain.

The stunning cover is a portent of the book's sixteen detailed watercolours, with their hot pinks, shimmering blues and purples in refined frames on each page opposite the text. The story's plot melds legend and reality, and finds focus in the hero, Chin Chiang. According to an ancient Chinese legend, the Great Dragon will bestow prosperity or hardship on his people depending on the excellence of the ceremonial dragon's tail dance honouring the Year of the Dragon. The pressure of performing the tail dance with his respected grandfather weighs too heavily on the nervous boy, who flees. The conclusion realistically fulfills the hero's inner needs and the legend's message. The authentic Chinatown settings and the brilliantly coloured dragon costume, along with the boy's natural appearance in jeans and running shoes, blend the old and the new in a story written with thoughtful insight for both silent reading and storytelling.

Joan E. Weller, Ottawa P.L., Ottawa, ON.
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