Monday, June 05, 2006

Review: Chopsticks

Dragon books--from picture books and manuals to middle-grade novels--are coveted treasures in our house. In fact, they even have their own shelf.

Chopsticks, by Jon Berkeley, stars a beautiful carved dragon who guards the entrance to a floating restaurant in Hong Kong harbor. On one New Year's night, the wooden dragon calls to the restaurant's resident mouse, Chopsticks. Understandably nervous, the mouse crawls up close to the dragon, who says, "'I won't eat you little mouse...I've been here for a long, long time, and I've never moved an inch.'"

The dragon wants to fly. He tells Chopsticks, "'Up over the roof I would go, and over the mountains, over the shining cities and the dark forests. If you could free me, you could come with me, little mouse.'"

Chopsticks seeks out the dragon's maker, Old Fu, who teaches the mouse to play a song on each full moon. And, once every twenty eight days, Chopsticks and the magnificent wooden dragon, "flew over lands that you and I only dream of, returning to the floating restaurant just as the sun began to peep over the eastern horizon."

Chopsticks celebrates travel, storytelling (the mouse reports their adventures to Old Fu after each full moon), and beautiful dragons. Jon Berkeley's illustrations are lush and vibrant, and Chopsticks, little and gray, stands out in fields of red, gold, and green. The text is dramatic and perfect for storytime. Highly recommended.