The Jade Dragon by Carolyn Marsden
Press, 2009. ISBN 978076364063.
(Ages 8+ )When Ginny sees another girl in her school who looks just like her, she is amazed to find the new girl sees herself as American. She knows no Chinese language, does not eat Chinese food, and scoffs at some of the things Ginny and her family hold dear. But Ginny wants her to be her special friend and does all she can to attract her attention. When Stephanie asks if she can take home Ginny's jade dragon, then Ginny relents, knowing that this little animal is her special animal, made only for her.
This gentle story of friendship and wanting a friend, will endear all readers, as they sympathise with Ginny doing all she can to have a friend. But to do this Ginny must deny her Chinese heritage, and fall in line with the selfish Stephanie. Both girls learn something about themselves throughout this book as they come to some understanding of their heritage and the pulls of living in another country. The parents play an interesting background role, as the American parents of the adopted Stephanie bring her up in an American household, yet encourage her to build relationship with Ginny and her family, and her Chinese heritage, while Ginny is brought up in a Chinese household and encouraged to hold dear Chinese customs and her background, but equally do well in the new culture. It's the dichotomy of many second generation children of migrant families, that tearing from one's background, and it's brought truthfully to life in this little novel.