Book Review for “The Sons of the Dragon King”


Young, E. (2004). The sons of the dragon king: A Chinese legend. (1st ed.). New York, NY: Atheneum Books for Young Readers.

     Ed Young retells an ancient Chinese legend in his picture book The Sons of the Dragon King: A Chinese Legend. As this ancient story goes, the legendary Dragon King had 9 sons. Each son was very different from each other and had a difficult time discovering his own talents. One day the Dragon King visits each of his 9 sons individually. After observing their natural talents, he gives them a job doing what they are best at. One son protects the city, one oversees food preparation, and yet another presides over religious ceremonies. Each son’s role is equally unique and equally important to the well being of society. To this day, depictions of the Dragon King’s 9 sons can still be seen protecting and aiding society in some way. Tiao-Tu protects the people’s homes and businesses; Ya-Zi oversees military expeditions; Pu-Lao adorns musical instruments, and Ba-Sha watches over waterways. This Chinese adventure teaches young readers that everybody is different; this is not a bad thing, rather it is a gift! Each person can use his or her own talents to help others. Along with the moral and storyline found within this picture book, the illustrations capture the attention of the reader from the moment they pick up the book. These illustrations feature traditional Chinese depictions of the ancient Dragon King and his 9 sons. It also shows the reader the Chinese lettering and symbolic representations of the 9 sons. Ed Young’s The Sons of the Dragon King: A Chinese Legend gives the reader a window into the legendary tradition and customs that still affect life in Chinese society today.

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