Title: Garden of the Purple Dragon
Author: Carole Wilkinson
Themes: Ancient China, personal growth
What’s it about?
This book continues where Dragonkeeper leaves off. With Long Danzi gone across the seas, Ping is left to care for and raise the young dragon, Kai. Hua (the rat) who went with Long Danzi returns on the back of a phoenix and the quiet life Ping and Kai have led is shattered when their goat is found killed (their source of milk). The three set off on a journey only to be captured by Liu Che, the Emperor of China. Living in the palace Ping begins to become accustomed to the fine clothes, sheets, food and learning the read, thanks mainly to Liu Che’s sister, Princess Yangxin. Ping finds her family but returns to Kai only to discover a horrible truth.
As a sequel this story moves with a good pace and thankfully doesn’t have the overly descriptive passages seen in Dragonkeeper. Kai’s young matter-of-fact nature and childish qualities are quaint and helps on many occasions to lighten the mood.
It is a long book so you need to pace yourself in the classroom. The necromancer scenes are at times quite confronting/gruesome.
This is a solid sequel to the Dragonkeeper series. It does have a very dark nature to this book so I would only recommend it for grade 2 and up (and even then you need to consider the class composition of behaviours and sensitivities). As noted the necromancer scenes are at times quiet horrific and graphic so I do strongly advise caution as a teacher. It’s very important to read this book prior to implementing in the classroom.
Jun is a nice addition to the story, a poor boy who is set to become Kai’s new keeper. He provides a much needed balance to the story.
There is a lot of development for Ping. In the first book she really had to learn to do new things whereas this book is more about her emotional development. She is taken in by the splendor of the palace and the Princess and this ultimately blinds her to the read truth. Another point to mention is that we do finally get to learn about her family but this does, in some ways, fall a little flat.
In terms of the historical aspect of this book it is a work of fiction. Having written that Liu Che was really an Emperor of China. He thirst for finding a way to become immortal is well documented in historical sources and the author has tied in the facet well to the book. Remembering of course that Liu Che is still young in this book but wields much power. The Princess Yangxin is likewise a real historical figure who has a rather sad story. Her relationship with her brother is, in my opinion, not shown to its extent as she was extremely close to Liu Che, even once she had been sent away to be married.
Overall, it is a good read but it is lengthy. If you have a class that needs to be challenged and extended then this book would work really well.
Get to know the author
Click the photo to visit Carole Wilkinson’s official website.
Includes some teaching notes, background and activities.