January 6, 2014
The Dragon Prince by Laurence Yep, illustrated by Kam Mak
The Dragon Prince:
A Chinese Beauty and the Beast Tale
by Laurence Yep,
illustrated by Kam Mak
Once there was a poor farmer with seven daughters. The land they farmed was so bad that they grew more rocks than rice. In spite of the hardships of their lives, his youngest daughter, Seven, was beautiful, kind and industrious. When her older sister finds a snake, instead of letting the other girl kills it, Seven removes it from the field and sets it free. In true fairy tale fashion, the snake turns into a dragon.
The dragon captures the old farmer and tells him that if one of his daughter’s doesn’t agree to be the dragon’s wife, he will eat the old man up. Predictably, it is only Seven who agrees to sacrifice herself for her father. But this is a fairy tale. Instead of getting eaten by a dragon, the dragon turns into . . . can you guess . . . a handsome prince.
I’m a sucker for both fairy tale variants from around the world and also Chinese folk tales so this was solid gold for me. As is the case with many folk tales, none of the characters have names, but instead go by their positions in the tale — Dragon/Handsome Prince, Father, and the many daughters but their order in the family.
The richness of color in Kam Mak’s paintings make them a perfect compliment to this story of treasure, wealth of character and deeper beauty.
As is the case with many folk tales, this story is a little longer than the average picture book so it may not be entirely suitable to very young readers although older children would find it fun to compare with other Beauty and the Beast Tales.
If you aren’t used to Chinese tales, you may be