I really don’t know how to feel about How to Catch a Dragon by Adam Wallace and illustrated by Andy Elkerton. On the one hand, I really wanted to enjoy the story, but on the other it’s just kind of missing the mark. And I get that perhaps not all children’s books have to make sense, but there are certain things about this book that give me pause. And it all comes down to Chinese culture and diversity.
I’m not understanding why this Chinese New Year seems to be set in the past, a pre-technology kind of feel surrounds the whole book, which wouldn’t really be a problem if they book didn’t include a whole bunch of characters of different diversities. And perhaps I’m being a bit harsh, but I’m kind of baffled as to why a white kid needs to be involved in a book that’s portraying a story about a cultural tradition of China. It kind of makes the whole thing feel Westernized, which isn’t good.
With that said, I did really enjoy most of the artwork and though the meter of the poetry is way off, it didn’t bother me so much that it took too much away from the story. I don’t think a kid is really going to mind that either, but I will admit that I do think it takes a little bit away from the overall song-feel of the tale, which I believe was the purpose of rhyming in the first place. The story is simple and nice.
My favorite part, however, was the inclusion of Mandarin translated words both throughout the book and in the back. It’s an excellent learning opportunity for some children. It definitely wouldn’t be enough if one is looking to have their child learn a second language, but it’s still a great inclusion.
So, in the end I’m somewhat back and forth regarding how I feel about this book. As I can’t make up my mind, a rating of three seems reasonable.
I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.