A fast paced fantasy for young readers featuring dragons, myths and adventure.
Originally from Singapore, Rebecca Lim grew up in rural Queensland when there were no books with stories which reflected who she was or provided protagonists with whom she could identify. Her work has been shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s Literary Award and she is co-founder, with Indigenous author Ambelin Kwaymullina, of the Voices from the Intersection initiative which aims to promote the publication of children’s stories from authors and illustrators from a much more diverse range of backgrounds and cultures.
In this second book in the series Children of the Dragon, Lim makes sure that readers from different cultures all have something to identify with as Qing and Harley continue the search for her four sisters, the daughters of the Dragon King, each entrapped in a magical vase. Since Harley had inadvertently released Qing from the first vase, the pair have been battling earthly and magical forces, including dragons, while racing against time and across continents to find the remaining vases.
Along the way Harley’s father Ray, a somewhat shady character, is missing, possibly kidnapped, but his former business associates are still prepared to repay favours by helping Harley and Qing get to the Wudang Mountains to search for the red dragon vase. There is an interesting moment which highlights the author’s intent to introduce different perspectives when Harley discovers that the Hong Kong boss repaying the favour, who he called ‘Mr Hong Kong’ is actually an elderly woman and the man he believed was the boss was only her book keeper!
This book embodies the principles of the Voices from the Intersection initiative as it introduces young readers to Chinese history, culture and myths as seen from the perspectives of both Chinese and Australian characters. It also looks at how people from these different backgrounds interact by highlighting their differences but, even more importantly, their similarities.
The narrative runs at a cracking pace and I read the book in one sitting, desperately wanting to know what happened next. I found the combination of kung fu, criminals, Chinese myths, and dragons irresistible as I believe many young readers will. As with all great adventure stories the mystery deepens even further after Ray’s disappearance, leaving Harley with his father’s associate, Schumacher, as the book ends with a direct threat to Harley’s parents and a nail biting cliff hanger.
Reviewed by Jan Kershaw
Distributed by: Allen & Unwin
Released: May 2019
- Read our review of Book 1 in this series: The Relic of the Blue Dragon