Nian, The Chinese New Year Dragon

Sleeping Bear. Dec. 2019. 32p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781585364138.
PreS-Gr 2–Every spring, the dragon Nian escapes his magical prison to terrorize the countryside and feast on the livestock and the locals (last year, the fierce beast ate Mei’s father and brother). This spring, the warrior who imprisoned Nian appears to Mei in her dreams, tells her she must defeat the beast for good, and gives her his cane to help. Over the next 15 nights, Mei discovers that the dragon fears loud noises and bright things. She then tricks Nian into eating the magical cane. There are many versions of this legend to explain the meaning behind traditional Chinese New Year celebrations. Loh-Hagan makes it her own by making the hero a young girl who figures out how to defeat the dragon, and the narrative builds exciting tension as Mei saves the day. Banks’s kinetic artwork features a large (and age-appropriately scary), Chinese-style dragon. The bright red color used to frighten Nian really pops against the otherwise muted palette.
VERDICT A wonderful version of a classic legend and a welcome addition to holiday collections.

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