BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

The Mystery of Dragon Bridge: A Peach Blossom Village Story by Ann Howard

Mystery of Dragon BridgeWelcome to Peach Blossom, a faraway ancient farming village known for its peaches and almonds. The inhabitants rely on Dragon Bridge to get in and out, especially during the harvest season when they sell or trade their bounty in the neighboring town.

One autumn, disaster occurs: Dragon Bridge is gone – “simply vanished in the night.” Village elder Old Lee calls on “brave and intelligent” Master Chen to help solve the mystery as quickly as possible because the villagers must get their crops to market. In his search, Master Chen meets a “bedraggled-looking” dragon who shockingly reveals, “‘I was Dragon Bridge.'” And so the dragon tells Master Chen about an interrupted 500-year nap, a broken promise, and a sad heart. Somehow, the villagers need to make amends …

Inspired by her childhood memories of growing up in “Butterfly Valley” in the mountains of Taiwan and the northern California landscape she now calls home, Ann Howard’s debut picture book is a gentle, mythic reminder about the importance of practicing cooperation, showing gratitude, and respecting friendships.

“[A] professional artist most of her adult life,” according to her ending bio, Howard’s illustrations evoke a manga-like whimsy, especially in the villagers’ expressions of surprise, worry, determination, and more. One minor quibble – Howard uses a finely detailed pointillist style to add depth and shadows which, while effective in landscapes and pulled-out views, proves somewhat distracting closer up, especially in certain faces which look unintentionally more pitted and dotted than not. Minor visual aesthetics aside, that the story is printed with English and “simplified Chinese” makes this Bridge both entertaining and educational, especially in language classrooms and multilingual homes. Of course, that the dragon proves to be the ultimate hero, surely ensures a safe landing on my own shelves, as well!

Readers: Children

Published: 2014


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