Wednesday, 9 May 2012

The sons of the Dragon King: a Chinese legend

Young, Ed. The sons of the Dragon King: a Chinese legend, New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, c2004.
A well-known Chinese folktale talks about a Dragon King who investigates each of his nine sons to discover their individual talents and find a role that suits their strengths. The Dragon King has nine immortal sons. After they grow up and leave their father’s palace, they seem to be aimless, and fritter their days away. The wise and watchful Dragon King quietly witnesses their various unseemly behaviors, and then discovers their individual strengths and finds a way to exploit their personal potential that can help to serve the kingdom. For instance, his second son, Chi Wen, constantly stares into the distance intently, so he gives him the  job of sentinel; Ba-Sha, spends most of her time swimming, so she is delighted to accept her father’s suggestion to   overseer water safety; the one who makes “monstrous noises” all day long finally gets the job to aid musicians; the strong one holds up roofs; and so on. The illustrations of this picture book are absolutely fantastic. It is rendered in brush ink and the nine-dragon sons use Chinese traditional cut-paper technology, which has an excellent appearance.

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