The Awakening Storm

Scholastic/Graphix. (City of Dragons: Bk. 1). Sept. 2021. 240p. pap. $12.99. ISBN 9781338660425.
Gr 4-7–Years after the disappearance of Grace’s doting father, her mother has married a redheaded stranger involved in cutting-edge health research, and Grace begins a new life at a Hong Kong international school. While finding her footing, she becomes an unlikely caregiver to an adorable blue water dragon, whom she must protect against those who seek to use the creature’s powers for sinister purposes. It’s an effective setup to explore how Chinese dragon legends might play out on a modern stage. Veering from teens bumbling through school hallways to high seas hijinks to a literal mad scientist, this is an entertaining tale with explicit roots in myth. The illustrations are colorful and playful, moving the story through its paces at a quick clip. Grace is Asian American, her mother and stepfather are white, and her crack team of international school dragon defenders include a Hong Kong local, an inventive Indian kid, and an Australian Aboriginal character—a dynamic group of friends who seem poised for more opportunities for hilarity and heroism in future books.
VERDICT An engaging read with some superhero-style peril and violence, this is a story of bravery and self-discovery.

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