________________ CM . . . . Volume XVII Number 7. . . .October 15, 2010.


Year of the Golden Dragon.

B.L. Sauder.
Regina, SK: Coteau Books, 2010.
236 pp., pbk., $9.95.
ISBN 978-1-55050-428-6.

Grades 7-9 / Ages 12-14.

Review by Laura Dunford.





Hong Mei glanced toward the man. Her instincts told her not to look directly at him, but her eyes were drawn to his. She tried to cast a charm of protection over herself, but for some reason Hong Mei couldnít remember it.

The man stared directly into her pupils. A second later, her eyes felt like they were being torn from their sockets. Hong Meiís mind fought the man. Her father had trained her well, and she knew her gong fu used to be excellent, but she was out of practice. She tried to imagine her own energy pushing the manís back at him, but all her strength and discipline had vanished. What kind of power was this?

A two thousand-year-old Chinese prophesy is about to come to fruition, bringing together the heirs of a Chinese emperor and his advisor. The three adolescents have been separated by time and distance, but each holds a piece of the Black Dragonís jade that has been passed down through their families. Hong Mei is a teenage girl moving from town to town in China as she helps her mother use her magical healing abilities. Hong Meiís own powers, her visions of the past and future, have grown increasingly violent as the Year of the Dragon approaches.

     On the other side of the world, Ryan and Alex, Hong Meiís Canadian cousins, witnessed violence first-hand when their parents died in a mysterious fire at their home in Vancouver. The brothers are wrestling with the trauma and with each other. Ryan and Alex are in China to visit family during the New Year, and they soon discover their parents were murdered by the devious Madam Ching who wants to steal their jade to hold power over Black Dragon. All three heirs must overcome language and cultural barriers to defeat Madam Ching and return the jade to Black Dragon.

     Taking place in China during a prominent cultural event and switching between the perspective of a Chinese citizen and Chinese-Canadian visitors, Year of the Golden Dragon is a useful book for highlighting a few interesting similarities and differences between Chinese and Canadian customs and for creating a bridge between the two cultures. Sauder is able to keep the story exciting with brief eventful chapters which move between the perspectives of all three protagonists. The authorís use of both male and female perspectives opens the book to a wider audience, although Hong Mei stands out as the pinnacle figure in the novel. The mystical tone of this story, set in a modern environment that is filled with computers, cars, and airports, hinges on Hong Meiís interactions with Black Dragon. Adolescent readers interested in fantasy fiction will love this story of ancient myths and present-day magic.

Highly Recommended.

Laura Dunford is a graduate of the Master of Arts in Childrenís Literature program at the University of British Columbia.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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