Thong, Roseanne & Lin, Grace. Red is a Dragon. 40 p. 2001. Chronicle. Hardcover $15.95. ISBN 9780811831772.
Thong's text and Lin's illustrations complement each other beautifully to celebrate the wide variety of colors found in the world around us. What I love most about this book is the way it presents a uniquely Asian American identity. Some pages introduce elements of Chinese culture, such as incense, a festival with firecrackers and a dragon, or dumplings. Other pages are more universal, with images such as a taxi cab, sand castles at the beach, or flowers in the garden. The text includes Auntie and Grandpa, subtly showing the importance of extended family in Asian cultures.
My children are half Vietnamese, and I really value the way this book speaks to my children's Asian-American experience just as naturally as we incorporate both sides of their cultures into their daily lives.
Books can be a mirror of our own experiences or a window to another world-- and this book is both. It doesn't appeal to my children just because they're Asian-American; children of all cultural backgrounds can enjoy it. The reader might learn something new, see something familiar, or just enjoy the vivid colors and bold, lively illustrations. Whichever way a young reader approaches it, they will surely regard this book as the treasure that it is.