A girl longs to return to the island in China where she was born to look for dragons. Her dream finally comes true when her family returns to celebrate Chinese New Year. The girl helps her grandparents prepare for the holiday and then joins in on the big holiday parade. When night falls, she goes out with her grandfather in a boat and finally learns about the secret of dragons.
Some kids dream of dinosaurs, others of bulldozers or princesses. Little Dragon Girl, in love with her father’s stories about beautiful Chinese dragons, longs to see a real one. When her family travels from Los Angeles to Dragon Gate Island in China to visit her grandparents for the New Year’s Lantern Festival, she knows that this is her chance. The girl watches as Grandpa paints the costumes for the dragon dancers and Grandma makes hundreds of delicious tangyuan, dumplings stuffed with sweet fillings. But when will she see a dragon? Finally, on the night of the festival, Grandpa takes the children out on a nocturnal boat ride and together they experience a wondrous sight. A simple font is used for much of the first-person narration as the unnamed female narrator looks back on her childhood. Although the text is brief, the young girl recalls many details that made her visit to China memorable, special, and culturally specific. Celebratory or important sentences are highlighted in a colorful elegant font reminiscent of calligraphy. Painterly illustrations offset by ample white space convey the warmth of home and family through rich red, warm brown, and oceanic blue. The scenes, whether close-ups of family interactions or panoramic views of Dragon Gate Island, are awash with movement and aglow with light. VERDICT Created by a Chinese author and an Asian-Canadian illustrator, this #OwnVoices picture book is perfect for preschool storytime all year round. (December 1, 2019)