This solid retelling of a traditional Chinese folktale concerns artistic integrity. A stone carver can't carve the dragon out of the "perfect piece of green and white jade stone," as the Great Emperor of All China has commanded, because a dragon is not what the stone innately "wants" to be. The entire kingdom is in an uproar, and still the craftsman insists on following his creative instincts--to his death, if necessary.
Though this moral tale has a timeless--and somewhat timely--quality, its visual presentation is weak. Chen's authentic drawings, while subtle, lack dramatic power; the overall design of the book is bland and does not set off the illustrations; and the interior typeface does not complement the art. The story will read aloud well, and perhaps children will not notice the lack of artistry in the book's overall appearance.