Review of "Jin Jin the Dragon - Grace Chang"

published 08/05/2013 | Marge3781
Member since : 28/06/2010
Reviews : 172
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About me :
Happily married Mom of 2 boys. Interests, home education, children's books and at the moment dinosaurs. Always happy to answer any questions on my reviews or books in general and very appreciative of suggestions for similar books. Marge3781/ Broxi3781.
Pro Absolutely magical tale.
Cons There are only 2 books by this author. I wish there were at least a dozen.
very helpful
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"Beautiful story and introduction to Chinese characters"

My youngest is very fond of dragons right now, but so many of the Western stories are about dragon slaying. We have started to look for Eastern dragon stories because the dragon is a symbol of power, protection, prosperity and good luck in Asian culture.

Jin Jin the dragon is based loosely on Chinese folk lore. The author is from Beijing, and grew up near the Forbidden City. When she has a child of her own, she told him stories drawn from the folklore she had grown up with and these were eventually published.

The story begins with Jin Jin hatching from a 1,000 year old egg. He has no idea what he is, or what he is meant to do. The first animal he meets is a fish, who suggests that this beautiful golden animal might be a fish as well, since he scales like a fish. Jin Jin happily jumps into the pond and begins to swim, but an eagle comes along laughing that Jin Jin could not possibly be a fish - he has the claws of an eagle. Soon snakes points out that he has the body of a serpent as well. Poor Jin Jin is desperate to know what he is, but the best the animals can do is give him a name Jin Jin which means golden, and he is golden in both colour and spirit.

Snake advises Jin Jin to seek out the Old Turtle and Crane, who are very wise. Jin Jin meets several helpful animals on his journey, and learns that he has something in common with each. He also finds written clues to guide him on his way, but these are hard to understand at first. Then the author carefully shows us how each character is really a picture, using an older form of Chinese writing which is more picture like. In no time at all both my sons and myself were able to read and understand these characters, and the more complex characters which are used today as there is a handy guide at the back.

But while it may seem that the purpose of this story is to educate a child and help them learn the Chinese characters, this is just a small added part of the story, and never takes from the enjoyment or flow of the story at any time. In fact it adds to it. the story, as the child enjoys decoding the messages.

This book has beautiful illustrations, and the story itself is excellent. It most definitely has a moral to it, but it is never preachy. My son found the little dragon wondering if he could be a fish, and eagle, a snake or other creature very entertaining, and had even more fun when other animals argued about what he could be. At last the dragon reaches the end of his quest, but just as he is about to find what he is, desperate farmers come begging for help. He forgets his own needs in his desire to help others, but it is in this kindness that he finds his true self and learns exactly what he is and what he is meant to do. He isn't just a dragon you see, but a very special type of dragon well known in Chinese folklore.

We've only had this book about a week and I've memorised it I've read it so many times. My son absolutely loves Jin Jin and we have already ordered the second book by this author. He has also taken a real interest in the Chinese characters, so we have ordered another book specifically on this. Not that we have any hope of ever becoming fluent in Chinese, but it is nice for children to learn about cultures, and we could have fun using the lettering in artwork as well.

I would very strongly recommend this book for schools or home educators. It I a wonderful and fun way to teach children about other cultures. I would recommend tis even more for a child who is actually able to speak Chinese and might be learning the characters. But while I appreciate the educational value of this book, the main reason to buy this is simply the quality of the story. This is a truly wonderful book to read. It is the perfect bedtime story and the type of book that a child will listen to over and over again.

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Comments on this review

  • Kukana published 05/07/2013
    It sounds lovely :-)
  • HPark96 published 21/06/2013
    Sounds like a lovely book :)
  • mi_wa published 27/05/2013
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Product Information : Jin Jin the Dragon - Grace Chang

Manufacturer's product description

Product Details

Subgenre: Fairy tales, fables & traditional stories

Author: Grace Chang

EAN: 9781592701025

ISBN: 1592701027


Listed on Ciao since: 07/05/2013