The Dancing Dragon

If you have kids in grade school,

then you’d probably know Marcia K. Vaughan. She’s the writer of two dozen or more childrens books designed to teach children about different cultures and traditions, although some are just for lighthearted, silly rea

ds. Some of her titles include Whistling Dixie, Dorobo the Dangerous (Animal Fair), Abby Against the Storm: The True Story of a Young Heroine and a Lighthouse, Snap!, and The Secret to Freedom. One of her most notable books is centered on a family’s preparations for their New Year celebration.

In The Dancing Dragon, Marcia Vaughan writes in rhymed couplets to describe the excitement a Chinese-American kid

feels when preparing for the Chinese New Year festivities. There’s plenty to do to make sure the celebration is a success. Strings of firecrackers must be tied outside. Red banners with gold lettering must be hung up. Special cakes must be baked. New clothes must be bought and hair must be cut. Then it’s time for a big family dinner in a house filled with flowers. The celebration culminates with a parade with a dancing dragon.

The Dancing Dragon is made of a foldout cardboard book that can stand on a table to show the eight-page panorama off this fierce creature and the crowd of people watching the parade in the streets of Chinatown. The well-known illustrator, Stanley Wong Hoo Foon, uses gouache and watercolor for the illustrations, which are bright and exuberant. These illustrations do justice the festive atmosphere of a typical Chinese New Year Celebration.

This is one of the most exciting Chinese New Year books for the under 8 crowd. They’re engaged from the first page to the last when the accordion-style book reveals the dancing dragon. Not only is the look of the book exciting, but kids love the sound effects that are described in the book, like banging on something to make the drumming noise written about in the story.

The Dancing Dragon is a fun way for children and school groups to learn about a different cultural experience. This is a great tradition to start with your kids. It’ll definitely be one of their favorites!

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