Thursday, October 15, 2009

Jin Jin and Rain Wizard

Jin Jin and Rain Wizard by Grace Chang; illustrated by Chong Chang. Enchanted Lion. 2009. Review copy supplied by publisher.

The Plot: Jin Jin, the water dragon, wakes up one day, just like any other day. Except today - he cannot breathe water. Usually, he can breathe out water, giving his friends a fun shower. Not today! Can he figure out why he's lost this ability?

The Good: As explained in the end notes, this original story uses some classic Chinese influences (water dragon, rice, Rain Wizard) about this story about a young water dragon who discovers that being a glutton and being wasteful can have consequences.

Add this to the "books to make you hungry" list. For this one, obviously, the food you're going to want to rice (steamed rice, rice pancakes, noodles, bread -- take your pick). Jin Jin learns about the importance of rice; and while you'll be hungry, you'll also know not to waste this important food. I can easily see this being used in school, along with tie-in lessons about China, food, and rice.

The illustrations, by the author's brother, include a lot of details for children to pour over. The pictures add to the story; Jin Jin's friends, his world, and the past he has to travel to where he can redeem his error (and have some fun, also).

Grace Chang was born in Beijing into a family of entertainers; she herself was both an illusionist and ringmaster in a Chinese circus. She now lives with her family in America; I'm jealous of the children who get to have a school visit from her! Chong Chang, her brother, an artist and graphic designer, still lives in China.

Sequel to last year's Jin Jin the Dragon.

Enchanted Lion is a small publisher; they only recently started a website. They are small; independent; and highlight original books that often were first published outside the United States. From the website: "We have published books from Australia, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, and The Netherlands. In 2010, we will publish our first books from Germany and Canada."

And from the submission guidelines: "[W]e publish books for children and young adults that aim to be fun, engaging and inspiring, while never losing sight of the fact that children are endowed with vast resources of intuitive awareness that make them highly sensitive detectors of emotional honesty, as well as very open to the enchantments of animals of all kinds. We are happy to explore your work. We are interested in hearing what you are up to whether that is in Brooklyn or Iowa, Tbilisi, Ireland or Detroit."

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© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

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