Since a picture book may indeed be perused for its unusual and interesting pictures, to the virtual disregard of a weak text, this curiously amorphous amalgam of cultural expansion and psychological breakthrough might find quite a number of takers. The situation is hackneyed, the prose stilted, the storytelling finesse almost nil. ""From the time Chin Chiang stood only as high as his grandfather's knees, he had dreamed of dancing the dragon's dance. Now the first day of the Year of the Dragon had arrived and his dream was to come true. . . . But instead of being excited, Chin Chiang was so scared he wanted to melt into his shoes. He knew he could never dance well enough to make Grandfather proud of him."" How Chin Chiang overcomes his fear, with the aid of a woman who had thought herself too old to dance, constitutes the plot. The amorphousness comes from neither being told that the people are Chinese nor having any idea where this big city is. (An adult can recognize that it's not in China proper.) But the minutely detailed, shimmering watercolors, old-fashioned Chinese in mode and often surreal in manner (skewed perspectives, vacant space), do draw the eye--and enable the story to be ""read,"" from painting to painting, without in fact reading beyond that opening paragraph. Just the brilliant dragon on the jacket, with Chin Chiang holding its tail, will catch passersby.