Friday, March 15, 2024

The Truth About Dragons by Julie Leung (art by Hanna Cha)

Sometimes I don't agree with the books that are chosen as award winners. This is NOT one of those times! This School Library Journal Best Book of 2023 and Caldecott Award Honor winner has gorgeous illustrations, and it an equally gorgeous read. I'm a little late for a link to the lunar New Year celebrations that would be a great time to share this, but it's so good you'll want to bookmark it for next year!

Title: The Truth About Dragons

Publisher: Henry Holt & Company, 2023

Author: Julie Leung

Illustrator: Hanna Cha

Themes/Topics: Identity, Heritage, Dragons

Suitable for age: 4+

Opening Lines:

"Lean in close, my darling bao bei, 

and I will whisper a most precious secret about a powerful magic that lives inside you."

Brief Synopsis:

A mother tells her son a bedtime story about two different types of dragons in two different forests that meet inside her son. A celebration of mixed cultural identity.


  • Talk with listeners about their racial and cultural identities. Older readers may want to write a bedtime story about something from their heritage.
  • Ask listeners if their parents cheer for different sports teams - why or why not
  • Have listeners describe their favorite outfit for exploring a forest. What would they take with them?
  • Make a dragon craft - then make a second one! (Google 'dragon crafts for kids' for ideas)
  • Read other books about dragons. How are the dragons similar and different?
  • Read other books about being biracial. Mommy Evolution and Goodreads have lists with books depicting multiracial families.
What I like about this book:

This book reads like a love letter to a child's multiracial heritage--without being preachy. It's now my go-to book for this topic. It's a great story chock full of bold interesting illustrations to study. Kids can go back and spot the two grandmas and other forest creatures. I have to admit that I'm partial to the shiny green lettering on the cover too!

I'm always interested to know if you've read this book and what you think!
This review is being shared as part of Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Book Friday. For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

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