In the second book in the Dragon Keeper series, Garden of the Purple Dragon,
Carole Wilkinson takes the story of former slave turned dragon keeper, Ping, to a new level. Faced with the dessertion of Danzi and the responsibility of raising his son, Kai, Ping is forced to grow in new ways. As always, Ping represents a strong female character in the middle grade fantasy genre and Wilkinson’s prose paints a beautiful picture of not only Ancient China but also of the diversity of human character. In my opinion, this is a buy-worthy series for families who enjoy reading aloud or individuals who enjoy reading on their own. All of my children have been excited over the series, and I like being able to share some books which portray females in strong roles, despite typical treatment of them in the era.
In Ancient China, a young slave girl suffers the abuse of her cruel master, making do with what she can scavange, her life looks rather bleak until the last remaining Imperial dragon makes an escape, taking her with him. Finding herself on a journey she never imagined and finally with a name to call her own, Ping agrees to help Danzi reach Ocean with his precious dragon stone. Faced with foes and falsely feared as a sorceress, Ping must use her creativity and cunningness to save them from enemies. Along the way, she not only learns from the ancient dragon, but finds herself and her own power as she learns that she is truly the last Dragon Keeper.
Carole Wilkinson’s Dragon Keeper is a hit with the young dragon loving audiences, but more importantly it showcases a strong female lead, something often not seen in popular children’s books and rarely in such a traditional male role, as the book discusses. I enjoyed reading the book with my children almost as much as they enjoyed listening. Many discussions ensued regarding Ancient China, Chinese culture, and the role of girls.