Flying the Dragon
Flying the Dragon is a novel written by Natalie Dias Lorenzi for children ages 9-12. The story involves a Japanese-American 5th-grader named Skye, living in the US, who meets her Japanese cousin Hiroshi for the first time when his family and their mutual grandfather move from Japan to the States. Asianmommy received a free copy of this book for review.
Skye had never been that interested in learning Japanese until her grandfather came to visit. Then, she found that she wanted to learn to communicate with him to get to know him better. Unfortunately, she also found that translating English to Japanese for her cousin at school made her the target of taunting and teasing by her classmates.
Hiroshi had his own struggles having to adapt to a new country with a different language. Also, dealing with their grandfather's illness was difficult, as Hiroshi wanted nothing more than to make and fly kites with his grandfather in his free time.
Skye and Hiroshi find themselves having to tutor one another in their respective languages and also having to learn to fly a kite together in the upcoming rokkaku kite battle. In the end, they begin to put away their resentments and form a close bond while working together as a team.
What I liked: I really enjoyed the multi-cultural aspect of this book. I like the way the author portrayed Skye's feelings about the pressure to learn Japanese, her embarrassment at having to speak Japanese in front of her classmates, and her jealousy of her cousin's relationship with their grandfather. Also, Hiroshi's frustration and confusion at the language and customs in the US, his resentment of Skye's intrusion on his time with their grandfather, and his expertise in kite-flying--it all rang true. I found the book to be quite well-written and entertaining, while dealing with matters of substance.
What could be improved: It would be nice to see more books like this!