Thursday, January 30, 2014

The New Year Dragon Dilemma by Ron Roy (an A to Z Mysteries Super Edition #5), illustrated by John Steven Gurney

It is their February school break and Dink, Josh and Ruth Rose are lucky enough to be in San Francisco with Dink's father, Mr. Duncan.  And best of all, it is the beginning of Chinese New Year.  Since Mr. Duncan has business to take care of, he has hired a young college student to take the kids sightseeing.  Holden Wong comes complete with a three-wheeled buggy to pedal the kids around San Francisco.

First up is a trip the the famous San Francisco Fisherman's Wharf to see the sights there, especially the sea lions that live on some floating wooden docks at Pier 39.  Holden warned Dink, Josh and Ruth Rose about their noise and especially their smell, and he wasn't kidding.  Then, after going through the aquarium to see the sharks, Josh suggests they get something to eat.

In the snack bar, Dink finds himself sitting near a large, bald man with an M tatooed on each hand.  The man was looking at a drawing on a laptop and talking on a cell phone.  Dink, who wanted to be a writer was in the habit of jotting down descriptions of other people, and as he was doing that, he heard the man say "The second tire works."  When he leaves, he gives Dink a dirty look.

After their day at the wharf, Holden took the kids to the big Chinese New Year parade.  Holden is really excited about the Miss Chinatown float because his girlfriend Lily Chen might be the girl picked to be Miss Chinatown and where the crown with a large, genuine ruby in it.  The fireworks and the parade are great fun, particularly the colorful, giant dancing dragon.  Two of the dragon's carriers ran out from under it and put the heads in the dragon's mouth to prove the dragon is happy.  But the third carrier ran off in the opposit direction and disappeared.  Holden and the kids were haveing so much fun, their barely noticed that.

Next, is the Miss Chinatown float made to look like a giant swan with Miss Chinatown in the middle, tossing candy at the crowd.  Suddenly, there are more fireworks and while everyone is looking up, Miss Chinatown disappears.  The parade comes to a stop, Holden, Josh, Dink and Ruth Rose all clamor on to the float to see what happened.  All they see in the box Miss Chinatown was standing on, but Dink notices a piece of black sticking out from under it and when they lift it up, sure enough, they find Miss Chinatown, Lily Chen, but her crown with the valuable ruby is missing.

And before they know it, both Holden and Lily are arrested for the theft.  Will Dink, Josh and Ruth Rose be able to solve this crime and get their new friends out of jail?

I wasn't familiar with this series, but I found The New Year Dragon Dilemma to be a pretty interesting mystery.  It is part of a series, but the Super Editions have more pages than the regular A to Z Mysteries.  They are nice chapter books aimed at readers who have outgrown the orginial series.

The kids, Dink, Josh and Ruth Rose, are nine years old, are still in elementary school, and are junior detectives.  Dink wants to be a writer and Josh wants to be an artist, so their skills come in handy for solving the mystery of the missing ruby.  Ruth Rose is the brainy, logical one and can put together all the clues that they discover.

I read The New Year Dragon Dilemma because Chinese New Year begins this week on January 31st  and I was interested in books for young readers that would introduce them to some of the cultural events that take place during 15 days of celebration.  And this book did give some nice background about the big dragon parade that is the culmination of Chinese New Year in San Francisco.

The book also gave some interesting information about the famous Fisherman's Wharf, which was nice, but then I discovered that you can see the sea lions that live there on a Sea Lion Web Cam - all the fun. none of the smell.  Be sure it is daylight in San Francisco, otherwise it is too dark to see them.

The original series contained 26 books based on the alphabet, but with no more letters, the Super Edition was born.  And it has proven to be a fun book, the mystery isn't difficult or scary and there is a bonus.  It should have great appeal to young and reluctant readers.  Embedded somewhere in each of the 26 black and white illustrations is a letter.  As kids find them, they can put them together to spell out a message.  A nice way to sharpen observation skills, like the ones used by the kids in the book.

This book is recommended for readers age 7+
This book was purchased for my personal library

Good Luck, Good Health, Good Cheer and Pass a Happy New Year


  1. What a perfect read for Chinese New Year. I’ve been to Fisherman’s wharf but had no idea there were sea lions – how on earth did I miss them? I’m going to visit that web cam right now! Thanks for another interesting review.

    1. I found a whole bunch of books for what is now being called the Lunar New Year so it is more inclusive of others who celebrate this holiday. I haven't been to Fisherman's Wharf, but my Kiddo lives in San Fran and I plan to go. The web cam is fun, but like the panda web cam, addictive.


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