BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

The Boy from the Dragon Palace retold by Margaret Read MacDonald, illustrated by Sachiko Yoshikawa

Boy from the Dragon PalaceLet me know if you’ve heard this one before – a poor man gets rich, gets greedy, not to mention careless and lazy, and loses everything. No … I’m actually not referring to the latest Wall Street headlines!

This playful new version gets retold by peripatetic children’s librarian Margaret Read MacDonald (gotta love that perfect middle name!) and is colorfully presented by illustrator Sashiko Yoshikawa who draws on her own childhood memories of growing up in an old part of Tokyo. Together, the pair create an entertaining morality tale both timely and timeless.

The story opens with a poor flower seller who can’t sell his blooms, and instead throws them into the ocean as a gift for the Dragon King. The waters swirl and a beautiful woman emerges and hands the man a little boy – with “the snottiest nose you ever did see!” Rather surprised, the man isn’t sure what he should do with the Dragon King’s gift, but the woman promises that the boy will bring good luck, as long as the man cooks the boy a daily meal of shrimp with vinegar and sugar.

The man takes the boy home, and spends his last coin to feed him. Having eaten, the boy blows his nose, and … what do you know … instead of something else (ahem!), gold coins shower down. The man cooks (always shrimp with vinegar and sugar), the boy eats, the boy blows not so mellifluously, and more riches magically appear.

But too soon, a palace, servants, and treasures are not enough. The man quickly becomes used to such wealth and status, and no longer deigns to take care of the boy as he promised. ”’What a nuisance this is!'” he declares. And with that, he promptly shuts the boy out of his new palace … you can surely guess the rest.

Sadly enough, such tales of greed-induced downfall aren’t limited to children’s stories. From Bernie Madoff to the most recent Raj Rajaratnam/Anil Kumar/Rajat Gupta-McKinsey insider scandal, even too much is never enough for some. If only these people were read to by caring parents when stories still made a difference, their lives might have turned out differently, right? We may never know, but why take chances?

Go ahead … grab a cuddle and read together about The Boy … teach the kiddies early, teach them well …

Readers: Children

Published: 2011


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