Our family dragon by Rebecca Lim and Cai Tse

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This story of the celebration of New Year within the Chinese community around the world, focusses on family and togetherness, and is framed with marvellous vivacious illustrations. Award winning author, Rebecca Lim has teamed with Sydney based artist Cai Tse. Their Chinese heritage is reflected in the celebration of the New Year.

This delightful tale is told from the perspective of the young boy in the family. This time of the year is his favourite and he questions his parents about some of the customs they observe. He cannot wait for the dragon to appear, and works with the family in cleaning the house, getting rid of the bad luck. He watches as the family makes their favourite food for New Year including dumplings, Eight Treasure Rice and ting yuan, spring rolls and dried oysters.

Steamed chicken and sweet sticky rice is left through the house to welcome the dragon and remember those who are no longer there. The family sits around telling stories and singing until New Year’s day comes around. They visit relatives and older people as part of honouring the elderly in the community.

They wear their parade clothes to Chinatown to be part of the celebration as the dragon weaves its way around them all. He hopes that soon he will be one of the dragon team and help weave the dragon through the streets.

Back home he rushes to the door hearing a knock. It is his sister, Jie Jie and she greets him as ‘gold rabbit’, while he in turn greets her as ‘gold dragon’.

Last year was the Year of the Rabbit and this year is the Year of the Dragon, so he wishes his sister a very happy Year of the Dragon, the Zodiac sign of her birth. The dragon has arrived.

This lovely tale full of family and celebrations, is beautifully illustrated with bold images of the family and the dragon.

Dragons fill the pages, reds and yellows splash in front of our eyes. The endpapers with their deep reds show the animals that are celebrated in the Chinese New Year, from rabbit to dragons as shown in this book, to the pigs, monkeys and snakes to name a few that form the Chinese Zodiac. I love the touches of Australian culture with the dragon leaping over the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and the landscape of the house in which they live, along with the clothes hoist in the backyard.

Themes: Chinese Zodiac, Chinese New Year, Family, Chinatown.

Fran Knight