East meets West and they have a baby dragon in this fantasy from Newbery Medalist Park.
With a father from the “East” and a mother from the “West,” young dragon Gondra deftly narrates she was born “somewhere in the middle.” Portrayed with zany proportions, including bulging eyes encircled with purple eyelids and red tendrils sprouting from her ears, nose, chin, and tail, Gondra carries her stuffed cow in tow as she quizzes her parents on the range of abilities between them. “Both of my parents can fly. Mom has wings. Dad uses magic.” Bantering back and forth, each parent describes the differences of their traits. Dad has an elongated wingless body in line with Asian dragons, while Mom follows the European style with wings and a shorter body. Gondra is then left to examine her own characteristics, wondering exactly where she stands in the family and how that differs from history. When she asks about dragon treasure, both parents lovingly remind her of her own intrinsic value. Park lightly touches on themes of interracial families, with the dragon folklore occupying the foreground. Reinhardt is bold in her choices of watercolors, pairing them with busy textures to bring a quirky flair to the tale and including humorous details to complement the narration.
While it’s not a profound look at mixed-race identity, it is a playful one, and readers will enjoy the cultural examination of dragons. (Picture book. 5-8)