Saturday, 11 September 2010

In Search of the Thunder Dragon

Authors and Illustrators: Sophie and Romio Shrestha
Publisher: Mandala Publishing Group
RRP: £11.99

  This is the tale of a girl named Amber (based on the daughter of the authors) who takes a journey to Bhutan.  She meets her cousin and together they listen to the tales of their grandfather.  He tells them of the dragons who create the thunder up in the sky and the children are determined to find them.  Along the way they meet the oldest Monk in Bhutan, a flying tigress and the dragons themselves.  They ride on the backs of the dragons as they create the thunder for the land below.

  Bhutan is a tiny Himalayan kingdom with a strong heritage and a rich Buddhist way of life.  This book is beautifully illustrated with art based on traditional Bhutanese style and captures some of the mysticism of the folklore and religion of the country.  Each image is wonderfully detailed and there are hidden translucent dragons peeking out from the edge of each page (you'll need to catch the light to see them).  The book captures the Bhutanese way of life fantastically and gives you a good insight into this unique culture.  Although the text itself contains important cultural references such as the flying tigress (the hidden form of the wife of Padmasambhava or Guru Rinpoche), in my opinion it's not particularly well written.  Some of the sentences feel clunky and overlong, possibly as a result of trying to add more description than is actually necessary.  At times this detracts from the otherwise delightful storyline.  This is such a shame, especially when the images are so clear.  What is useful though, particularly as it is set in such a little-known place, the final page has some useful information about the country.

  This book gives a useful insight into another culture far different from my own.  The mythical adventure is mesmerising but equally not as inspiring as I feel it should be.  It is the only picture book from Bhutan I could find when studying the country with my class, and although not perfect, the images themselves reveal a lot about the country they are from.  I really want to visit this country, it has such a rich culture of music, dance, art and peace...maybe one day!

Rating: 6/10