One day, a poor flower seller drops his leftover flowers into the sea as a gift for the Dragon King. What does he get in return? A little snot-nosed boy—with the power to grant wishes! Soon the flower seller is rich, but what will happen if he forgets the meaning of “thank you”? This classic folktale is reimagined with adorable watercolor images, playful text, and an endearing—if snotty—main character.
MARGARET READ MACDONALD travels the world telling wonderful stories and teaching others how to share them. Her most recent books include Party Croc! and How Many Donkeys? An Arabic Counting Tale. She lives in Washington where she works as a children’s librarian.
SACHIKO YOSHIKAWA moved to the United States from Japan in 1988 to study art. She has illustrated numerous books for young readers, such as Beach is to Fun, named Best Children’s book of the Year by the Bank Street College of Education, and What is Science?, a finalist in the Children’s Science Picture Book category of the 2007 SB&F Prize.
How to have even more fun reading aloud or telling this story!
When you read the part about the snot nose little boy blowing his nose, pretend to wipe your nose on your right sleeve….then on your left sleeve….then pretend to blow your nose loudly and…SNEEZE! AH-CHOO! It is fun if everyone listening does this all together.
(From Margaret Read MacDonald)
Compare this story to other similar folktales.
There are many folktales that have the same “motif” as this story…they have the same main idea….someone wishes for bigger and bigger things and ends up with nothing. Another book that I wrote has this same theme. It is called “The Old Woman Who Lived in a Vinegar Bottle” In that story an old woman is complaining about her cramped house and a fairy gives her a wish for a bigger house. But of course the bigger house isn’t big enough…so … the story keeps going on until she asks for one thing too much….and the fairy dumps her back where she began. You might also look for a version of “The Fisherman and His Wife”…a similar story in which a fish gives a man wishes, but his wife keeps asking for more and more. You could even write your own story based on this idea!
(From Margaret Read MacDonald)
Look carefully at the illustrations for The Boy from the Dragon Palace.
Sachiko Yoshikawa, who made the illustrations, is from Japan, but she lives in the US now. She used various art techniques to create these pictures. She used some collage…can you find places where she has pasted cloth onto the paper to make clothing for the characters? She has painted with watercolors…and she has uploaded the whole thing and altered it digitally…take a look at the swirling water. You could have fun making a picture using collage and painting. Find some cloth scraps for the clothing, paste the on…then draw added features to the illustrations. (From Margaret Read MacDonald)
Cooperation and collaboration between the author and illustrator
It can be fun…and useful…if the artist and author collaborate when they are working on a picture book. I had written that the old man wished for “a chest full of jewels”. Sachiko emailed me and said…”That sounds boring. Could he wish for something that would be more fun to draw?” I said, “No problem. This is a folktale. It is just a pattern….he makes a wish…he gets a wish…he makes a wish…he gets a wish…” So I changed my sentence to: “He wished for a chest full of TREASURE.” Now she could draw anything she wanted in the chest…she put in a samurai helmet, samurai swords, paper fans, all sorts of interesting Japanese items.
I said, “Well what would you like to draw? He can wish for that next.” She said…”I’d love to draw a Japanese garden…ladies in silk kimonos…” So I had the old man wish for a beautiful Japanese garden, with ladies in silk kimonos to dance and entertain him. It is fun to cooperate with the illustrator this way!