Cover image for The city of dragons
The city of dragons
Yep, Laurence, 1948-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Scholastic, [1995]

A boy with a face so sad that nobody wants to look at him runs away with a caravan of giants to the city of dragons, where his sorrowful face is finally appreciated.
Reading Level:
AD 740 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 4.5 0.5 154346.
Geographic Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books

On Order



A boy with a face so sad that nobody wants to look at him runs away with a caravan of giants to the city of dragons, where his sorrowful face is finally appreciated.

Author Notes

Laurence Yep was born in San Francisco, California on June 14, 1948. He graduated from the University of California at Santa Cruz in 1970 and received a Ph.D. in English from the State University of New York at Buffalo.

He primarily writes fiction for young adults, but has also written and edited several works for adults. His first novel, Sweetwater, was published in 1973. His other books include Dragonwings, Dragon's Gate, Shadow Lord, Child of the Owl, The Earth Dragon Awakes: The San Francisco Earthquake of 1906, and The Dragon's Child: A Story of Angel Island. He has won numerous awards for his work including the Newbery Medal Honor Book, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, Jane Addams Children's Book Award, and the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Ages 5^-8. A young boy with the saddest face in the world feels bad about the pain his appearance causes his parents. Donning a wide-brimmed hat, he runs away and meets a caravan of giants on their annual trek to the City of Dragons. Impressed because they think he must be very brave to deal with such sadness, the giants hire him to help gather treasure. The boy's face moves the dragons to tears, enabling them to cry pearls for the giants to collect. This tale's folkloric style meshes nicely with the Tsengs' fanciful watercolor illustrations, resulting in an appealing and thoughtful story. A good choice for primary read-alouds, this may spark discussions about disabilities and appreciation for everyone's true worth. --Kay Weisman

Publisher's Weekly Review

``Once there was a boy with the saddest face in the world. Even when he was happy, everyone who saw him thought he must be sad, and they became sad, too.'' Embellishing the memory of an disfigured, outcast boy of his childhood with folklore from southern China, Yep deftly crafts an imaginative moral tale. Shunned because of his disturbing appearance although he is both polite and good, the boy runs away with a band of giants that hunts for pearls‘the tears of dragons. The jaded dragons are impervious to the saddest of the giants' tales; but when they see the boy's sorrowful face, they weep bowlfuls and the boy, returning home with the gems, receives a hero's welcome. Just as the author does with his dialogue, the Tsengs (illustrators of Yep's The Boy Who Swallowed Snakes) spike their exotic, mystical watercolors with just enough humor to leaven a potentially heavy theme‘the value and power of one's uniqueness. Fresh, unusual and impressive, this is a worthy addition to the ever-expanding Yep collection. Ages 5-9. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

K-Gr 3‘``Once there was a boy with the saddest face in the world.'' To avoid upsetting people, he wears a large straw hat to cover it. The villagers still fear being affected by his misery, so he runs away from home. He joins a band of giants who decide that he is bravely enduring a terrible sadness and has ``...a giant's heart in a boy's body.'' They take him under the sea to the city of dragons, where his face proves useful in inducing the dragon maidens to cry pearls. Returning home rich with silk and gems, the boy is now judged by what he has done rather than by how he looks. The moral is weakened by the fact that his usefulness to the giants is due to his outward appearance, not his actions. The Tsengs are skillful watercolorists, and the illustrations carefully follow the text. Wisely, the boy's face is not clearly shown, leaving readers to imagine its sorrowful expression. However, the depiction of the giants in relation to the boy does not always covey their enormity. Often, they merely look like large adults. The dragon maidens, on the other hand, with their silk kimonos, hair in topknots, and faces that are a cross between human and lizard, are imaginatively strange. Both author and illustrators seem constrained by the story itself and, despite their talents, it never fully comes to life.‘Karen James, Louisville Free Public Library, KY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.