The Blue Dragon by Yiola Damianou-Papadopoulou starts on a typical day in Sri Lanka; the fishermen leave for their daily trip; little children play together along the shoreline; while a party of other children is preparing to depart on a school excursion. However, without warning, something resembling a huge mythical beast emerges from the depths of the ocean, its enormous hands spread high into the sky, and its huge ferocious mouth open wide, engulfing everything in its path. Nothing is spared. The Blue Dragon describes the terror of the catastrophic tsunami that hit Sri Lanka in December 2004. The novel focuses on a group of children – Hanseni, her siblings Awade and Manori, and their friend Nishian – their individual experiences, and how they managed to pull through this horrendous event.
Publisher: Wattle Publishing Ltd., Mar 2013
Reviewer: Caroline Hammond
The Blue Dragon weaves a story for 10+year olds around the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami. The author portrays Sri Lanken island life for both children and adults, including grandparents, before the wave hits. There are folklore and grandparents warnings of what happens before the Blue Dragon (folklore term for a tsunami) however the young generation are more interested in technology and the ‘here and now’ than tales of the past. The story has a family narrative which, once the Tsunami strikes, means you follow the different paths of the fate of the individual family members. The novel does not shy away from depicting the horror and tragedy of such an event: death, injury and loss are all covered. Also, the actions – sometimes shocking – which individuals will take to preserve themselves over another human are part and parcel of this novel. Whilst the language would be very easy, even too easy, for most 10 + year olds to read, adults may wish to review the novel before younger readers begin it to see if any of the themes would be distressing. The novel is a compelling read, which outlines both the human and environmental impact of a real life event which could be complex for youngster to understand and grasp. The topics included in the novel are likely to give rise to a good debate and interesting conversation between young readers and adults in their lives