Happy New Year, everyone! We’ve got a lot in store for 2012 at Peachtree: audiobooks, new board books, adorable picture books, hard-hitting nonfiction, and compelling middle grade titles are all hitting shelves this spring and we’re so excited! We also have big plans for the blog, so keep your eyes here for new features and fun posts as we get the year started!

One new feature is our spotlight on backlist titles. These old favorites are not to be forgotten!

Today I’m looking at The Dragon New Year:

The story begins with a young girl who is frightened by the fireworks and loud crowds outside as her town celebrates the New Year. Not understanding the commotion, she pleads with her grandmother: “Please do not leave me alone!” 

The girl’s grandmother explains that it is because of the loud noise and bright lights that she is safe from harm. She tells the tale of the Dragon New Year: 

New Year is a dragon. New Year is the most ferocious of all sea dragons. It lives in a palace at the bottom of the sea. 

The tale of the Dragon New Year is a fearful one. Every year, the dragon springs forth from the sea to feed in the town, sending villagers fleeing for the hills. Until one year, the grandmother explains, a courageous woman stays behind and, with the help of Buddha, devises a plan to scare the dragon away! Because the dragon lives in the sea, it knows nothing of fire and loud noise, so the woman and Buddha build a great bonfire. 

It came as it had every year. Bursting onto the beach, it slithered with haste toward them. Fixing them with its cold, snake-like eyes, its distorted hindlegs dancing in the sand and its forepaws tearing at the clouds, the dragon reared to strike. 

It reared up. It stopped. 

Bewildered, New Year stared at the bonfire.

 
Flailing wildly, like a boulder plummeting from the heavens, it dropped to the bottom of the sea. 

The dragon had disappeared. It had fled, terrified and confused. And, for the first time ever, it had left hungry.” 

The tradition holds true today, as Chinese New Year celebrations are filled with firecrackers and the clanging of bells and whistles to ring in the holiday safe from the clutches of the Dragon New Year! 

Did you know that 2012 is the Year of the Dragon in China? The Chinese zodiac assigns an animal to each year, beginning with the Year of the Rat and then moving on to Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig before starting the cycle over again. According to the tradition, each of these animals is thought to bestow certain characteristics to the people born in their year. Legend has it that the Year of the Dragon will be marked by excitement, unpredictability, exhilaration and intensity! 

Here are some fun and interesting facts about the Chinese New Year: 

  • The Chinese New Year falls on the western calendar’s January 23rd this year.
  • It is a 14-day-long celebration and includes many festivals and traditions, including the telling of the many Chinese legends.

  • Chinese New Year is a time to welcome longevity, wealth, and prosperity and to eliminate any negative chi (energy) from the past.

For more information on The Dragon New Year, head over here. 

If you like The Dragon New Year and are interested in other titles about Chinese heritage, check out Good Fortune: