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by Julie Leung ; illustrated by Hanna Cha

Pub Date: Aug. 15th, 2023
ISBN: 9781250820587
Publisher: Henry Holt

A parent spins a bedtime story that takes a biracial child on a cross-cultural journey.

Donning a cloak and sturdy boots, the protagonist enters a lush autumn forest, venturing past “mischievous hobgoblins” and “glowing will-o’-the-wisps.” The pages are richly detailed, framed with decorative borders in a palette that is reminiscent of European fairy-tale illustrations with a touch of art nouveau. In a small thatched-roof cottage, the child encounters a White-presenting wise woman who describes dragons as “fearsome and fiery creatures” that hoard treasure and defeat knights. After learning this, the young adventurer slips into another forest, one with sumptuous, flowing ink illustrations in the style of traditional Chinese landscape paintings. Guided by the footprints of nine-tailed foxes and the advice of a white rabbit who lives on the moon, the child reaches the palace of a Chinese-presenting wise woman. In this realm, dragons are described as “majestic creatures of air and fire” who “rule in the skies and rivers” and control the rain. The Chinese-presenting parent ends the tale by noting that both worlds, though distinctly different, exist within the child and are open to be explored—and that “two wise grandmothers await / to share with you / their truth about dragons.” The book feels a little message-heavy, but it’s nevertheless a much-needed celebration of intergenerational storytelling and biracial identity. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A beautiful adventure about embracing both sides of one’s heritage.

(Picture book. 5-8)