93/100 (9.3 out of 10)
What an imaginative, adventurous, beautiful little ride! “Mira & the Mysterious Dragon” is a fun, lighthearted children's book by Yuqian (Jennifer) Wang. It follows the titular character, Mira, as she is prompted to go on a winding, weaving quest to find the mysterious dragon.
Along this journey, Mira encounters many strange and interesting characters. She meets Ella the beautiful orange butterfly, dolphins, Molly the mermaid, Terry the sea turtle, Leo the lion, Broody the ghost, Mr. Magician, and, of course, Delilah the dragon.
Mira also adventures to many fabulous and fantastical locations like Drift Land (which includes an Island/ocean-like environment filled with mermaids and sea creatures as well as a jungle) and a magical, haunted castle full of friendly ghosts, pumpkins and bats.
This book gets an A and top praise for its creativity and for effectively portraying a spirit of adventure. The art is bright as are the characters. It has an unrefined, organic appearance to it, likely being hand-drawn and colored. Mira herself has a very simple, chibi-like appearance, possibly serving as a blank-slate protagonist whom the reader can get inside of. The animals are adorably anthropomorphic.
The environments portrayed are all fresh and exciting. They are creatively put together. In fact, the backgrounds are the most beautiful things about this book. They're colorful and really pop out at you.
If there were any drawbacks to this book it would be that it is about 10-15 pages longer than most children's books we've read. It's also far wordier than most, and there's a profound absence of things that get kids to stick around like rhymes and patterns.
Wordiness is something that you have to be extra careful with when crafting a children's book. Children have especially short attention spans and quickly lose interest and patience if the story plods along or drags, and that's kinda what this story does. It's comparable to playing hop-scotch with hurdles between the vertical bars. It takes extra time and energy to get through what should be a brisk, fun experience. Also comparable to “advanced” hop scotch is the book's choppy, erratic nature, skipping from one thing to another. It can't seem to decide who or what it wants to focus on, it just seems to want to throw everything including the kitchen sink at the reader. You like cute dolphins, talking turtles, and dancing lions? Here they are in a book with a haunted castle and a sweet, charming dragon. We're all for being imaginative and creative, but there needs to be a degree of this that actually makes sense. We seriously don't know what's going on most of the time (or what the point of all of it is in terms of actually finding the dragon) and we're highly experienced readers. This is probably the 120th or so book we've read this year. Is it possible that this actually comes from the imagination of an eight-year-old sorta like Axe Cop? That might explain a bit.
But we digress. This book is impressively imaginative and bold.
Check it out on Amazon!
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