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Chopsticks    by Jon Berkeley order for
by Jon Berkeley
Order:  USA  Can
Random House, 2005 (2005)
* * *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

Jon Berkeley poses the question, 'How can one small mouse bring a dragon to life?' The answer can be found in the author's first book for children, starring a tiny gray mouse named Chopsticks, who lives in a Hong Kong floating restaurant.

Diners arrive in sampans at the restaurant, which is many stories high, with 'hundreds of windows and a roof of green tiles'. Its two huge pillars, decorated in red, gold, and blue, are extra special because there is a carved dragon wrapped around each of them. At night, Chopsticks searches the restaurant for scraps of food. On New Year's night, Chopsticks is cleaning his whiskers in the 'silvery light of a full moon', when he hears a whispering voice - 'Little mouse ... Little mouse ... climb up here so I can speak to you.' It's a dragon, who tells Chopsticks that he and his brother were carved many years ago by Old Fu. Chopsticks' new friend would like to travel the world and take the mouse with him. But how can these wooden figures unwrap themselves from the pillars? There is a secret way; it can be done.

Berkeley's story flows with happiness, and his illustrations display distinct form, rich colors and characters, and exceptional expression. Berkeley was born in Dublin, Ireland, and has lived in London, Sydney, and Hong Kong. He has penned an awesome, majestic story in Chopsticks - one to be read over and over again.

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