Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Dragon New Year: A Chinese Legend

The Dragon New Year: A Chinese Legend

David Buchard
Illustrator:  Zhong Yang Huang 
Picture Book
For ages 6 to 9
Peachtree Publishers, 1999   ISBN: 1561452106

It is Chinese New Year and a little girl is frightened of the loud firework noises and bright lights that she can hear and see through her windows. She asks her grandmother to tell her why people celebrate in this way every year.

And so the grandmother tells the little girl a story. She describes how long ago villages used to be dark and silent places at this time of year. All the houses and shops were locked up tight because the people feared the New Year. The reason why they were so frightened was because the New Year was a fearsome sea dragon and every year it would come on land to feast on the people in the villages.

One year the dragon New Year killed and ate a young fisherman. The fisherman’s mother was so distraught that when the time for the dragon New Year rolled around again she decided not to flee because she had nothing “left to live for.” As she waited for the dragon New Year to arrive, a stranger came to her door. She welcomed the man into her home and told him of her loss. He then suggested that there might be something that they could do about the dragon.

In this unique holiday book the author brings together elements from Buddhism and traditional Chinese tales to create a unique story. In the tale readers will find out why the Chinese light lanterns and set off fireworks at this time of year, and they will even see where the idea for the dragon dance came from. An author’s note at the back of the book explores the traditions of Chinese New Year further.