Cover image for The sons of the Dragon King : a Chinese legend
The sons of the Dragon King : a Chinese legend
Young, Ed.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Atheneum Books for Young Readers, [2004]

Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : illustrations ; 27 x 29 cm
The nine immortal sons of the Dragon King set out to make something of themselves, and each, with help from a watchful father, finds a role that suits his individual strengths.
Reading Level:
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 5.3 0.5 78536.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PZ8.1.Y84 NJ 2004 Juvenile Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
PZ8.1.Y84 NJ 2004 Juvenile Non-Fiction Fairy Tales
PZ8.1.Y84 NJ 2004 Juvenile Non-Fiction Fairy Tales
PZ8.1.Y84 NJ 2004 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



"Behavior not befitting the son of the Dragon King!"
The Dragon King has sent his nine sons out to find their places in the world, but rumors abound -- each son is apparently as aimless as the next! One son does nothing but stare into space, another spends his day frolicking in a stream, another plays with fire, and still another hollers and yells from noon till night. The king realizes it's time to visit each son to see if the rumors are true. What he finds surprises him, for each son has a very special gift that continues to serve and enrich China's culture to this very day.
Two-time Caldecott winner Ed Young brings us a legend of a very special parent recognizing the potential in his very special children, and in doing so, shows how a simple folktale shaped a visible part of Chinese culture.

Author Notes

Caldecott Medalist Ed Young is the illustrator of over eighty books for children, seventeen of which he has also written. Born in Tientsin, China in 1931, Ed Young grew up in Shanghai and later moved to Hong Kong. As a young man, he came to the United States on a student visa to study architecture but turned instead to art.

Young began his career as a commercial artist but found himself looking for something more expansive, expressive, and timeless. He discovered all this, and more, in children's books. Young's quest for challenge and growth are central in his role as illustrator.

A graduate of the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Young has since taught at the Pratt Institute, Yale University, Naropa Institute, and the University of California at Santa Cruz.

In 1990, his book Lon Po Po was awarded the Caldecott Medal. He has also received two Caldecott Honors - for The Emperor and the Kite and Seven Blind Mice - and was twice nominated for the Hans Christian Andersen Medal, the highest international recognition given to children's book authors and illustrators who have made a lasting contribution to children's literature.

In addition to Ed Young's writing and illustration career, he is also a respected master of t'ai chi and has been teaching students for over 30 years.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 3-5. The Dragon King's nine sons have been sent forth to find their true callings. Unfortunately, they gravitate to activities that seem self-indulgent, such as breaking into song or "fussing about in the kitchen." Though initially distressed, the Dragon King realizes that each of his sons' interests can be parlayed into useful employment: his noisy son, for example, can keep musical instruments sounding "loud and true," and his sharp-eyed son can protect homes from danger, and so on. Although the story has a repetitive structure typical of folktales for younger readers, the text is long and requires a certain level of sophistication to make the conceptual leap between each son's role in the story and its corresponding significance in Chinese iconography (each of the nine scenarios concludes with a cut-paper example of real-world dragon ornamentation, much of which can evidently be traced to this legend). Even readers older than the traditional picture-book audience, though, may find that they lack the cultural context to fully appreciate the esoteric aspects of Young's treatment. The ink-wash portraits of the exuberant young dragons are probably reason enough to buy this book; readers of any age will marvel at how much Young can accomplish with just a few sinuous strokes of his brush. --Jennifer Mattson Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Caldecott Medalist Young delivers some of his most exciting illustrations since Lon Po Po in this traditional Chinese tale about a Dragon King with nine sons. Unsettling rumors about his sons reach the Dragon King: one is said to be extraordinarily lazy, another to make "monstrous noises" all day long, and none acts as "befit[s] the son of a king" (children will quickly recognize most of these criticisms). Surreptitiously traveling to each of his progeny, the Dragon King quietly witnesses the various unseemly behaviors and then, wisely, sees in each a virtue that can help serve the kingdom. For example, Ba-Sha, who spends all his time swimming, delightedly accepts his father's suggestion that he oversee water safety. Even today, as facing text explains, whenever a son discovers his strength, the sons' roles remain visible in Chinese culture (Ba-Sha's face adorns bridges). Beyond its value in exploring Chinese imagery and myth, the book demonstrates simply and accessibly that even the most idle-seeming "talent" can be put to good use. Young's exceptionally deft and energetic illustrations of the sons animate the text. Rendered with ink and brush, these surprisingly funny dragons seem almost to move on the page (the maker of "monstrous noises" sings full-out, almost like an opera singer). More formal cut-paper pictures of the nine sons' images, in their traditional symbolic uses, balance the brushwork. With a design as elegant and lively as the prose is clear, this book is a welcome addition to the folktale shelf. Ages 5-8. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 1-4-According to legend, the Dragon King had nine sons who, after leaving their father's house, seemed to be aimlessly frittering away their days. When the king goes to investigate, he discovers that what appears to be frivolity or laziness is masking a unique talent, and he helps each son to employ his talent productively. For example, because the second son, Chi Wen, constantly stares intently into the distance, he becomes a sentinel. Young then goes on to describe how that young man and his talent are still symbolically reflected in Chinese art and architecture. "And to this day, Chi Wen may still be found at the tops of buildings, a sentinel searching the distance for potential danger." The text is engrossing and includes an informative author's note. The illustrations, rendered in brush, ink, and cut paper, use softly smudged lines for the part of the story focused on the legend, and sharper, cleaner lines augmented by a minimal but dramatically effective use of color for the present-day segments. This elegant addition to folklore shelves should be a first purchase for most libraries.-Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.