Children of the Dragon: Selected Tales from Vietnam
Author: Sherry Garland; Illustrator: Trina Shart Hyman
Pages: 64
Publisher/Date: Harcourt/2001
ISBN: 0152242007
Age Levels: 8 and up

Book Review

Sherry Garland begins this lyrical, lovely book with a three-page introduction to Vietnam's geography, climate, language, history and heritage. Here we learn that, "According to legend, Vietnam’s history began four thousand years ago when the dragon prince named Lac Long Quan married a fairy
princess . . . Their oldest son founded the first Vietnamese kingdom."

We also learn that the elderly have traditionally passed down to future generations tales such as those found in the book.
Although today many of the tales can be found in books as reading lessons, nothing can substitute for the pleasure of hearing the stories—some funny, some scary, and some sad—as Grandmother tells them by the soft glow of the lantern. It is just one more way in which the proud descendents of the dragon prince preserve their culture.
There are six tales found herein. One, titled, "Chu Cuoi—the Man in the Moon," is a love story about a poor woodcutter who saves the life of a great lord's daughter but ends up losing all that is dear to him. Another, titled, "The Raven and the Star Fruit," concerns selfishness and greed. A third, "The Bowmen and the Sisters," includes as characters tribespeople called montagnard who live in the hills and mountains.

At the end of each tale, readers will find an author's note explaining the cultural aspects of the story.

Trina Schart Hyman’s illustrations, done in India ink and acrylic, swirl and flow through the text, capturing the drama and beauty of each of the stories.

Classroom Uses: The tales are gracefully told, making this a winning choice for reading aloud. This would also make a wonderful anchor text for a unit on Vietnam or a unit on folktales.

Reviewed by the teachers at Education Oasis
©2003 Education Oasis

About the Author

Sherry Garland has long been fascinated with the Vietnamese people and their country, which she has had the opportunity to visit firsthand. Back home in Texas, she worked extensively with Vietnamese immigrants, helping them to settle in the Houston area.

Ms. Garland has written numerous books for Harcourt. Those influenced by her interest in Vietnam include Shadow of the Dragon (1993), The Lotus Seed (1993), and Song of the Buffalo Boy (1992). Sherry Garland lives with her husband in central Texas. Visit the author's website.

About the Illustrator

Trina Shart Hyman illustrated children's books for more than thirty years. Her paintings have enriched a wide range of literature, including Swan Lake (Harcourt, 1989) as told by Dame Margot Fonteyn. She received the Caldecott Medal for her stirringly romantic illustrations for Saint George and the Dragon, adapted by Margaret Hodges. She was also awarded three Caldecott Honors, most recently for A Child's Calendar, written by John Updike. Trina Shart Hyman lived and worked on a farm in Lyme, New Hampshire before her death in 2004.