By: Emi Watanabe Cohen
Genre: YFB - General fiction
Published by: A & U Children
Published: 15 Jun 2022
ISBN: 9781761180101


In this middle grade fantasy set in Japan, ten-year-old Kohei teams up with his new neighbour to search for the truth, both about Kohei's family history and the disappearance of the giant dragons that fought in the war.

Kohei Fujiwara has never seen a giant dragon in real life. The big ryu all disappeared from Japan after World War II, and twenty years later, they've become the stuff of legend. Their smaller cousins, who can fit in your palm, are all that remain. And Kohei loves his ryu, Yuharu, but he has a memory of the big ryu. He knows that's impossible. In his mind, he can see his grandpa - Ojiisan - gazing up at the big ryu with what looks like total and absolute wonder. When Kohei was little, he dreamed he'd go on a grand quest to bring the big ryu back, to get Ojiisan to smile again.

But now, Ojiisan is really, really sick. And Kohei is running out of time.

Kohei needs to find the big ryu now, before it's too late. With the help of Isolde, his new half-Jewish, half-Japanese neighbour, and Isolde's Yiddish-speaking dragon, Cheshire, he thinks he can do it. Maybe.

From debut author Emi Watanabe Cohen comes a story of magic, a mysterious family legacy and the lengths to which we'll go to protect the people we love.


Kohei is a young Japanese boy who is trying to piece together his family history, the truth about what happened to his father, and why his grandpa, Ojiisan, is sad and angry.

Kohei has a small ryu, or dragon, called Yuharu, who he loves. She is wise and always by his side. There were once were big ryu, but they are now longer around. Kohei is convinced that if he can find a big ryu, his Ojiisan will be happy again.

What transpires is Kohei, and his new friend, Isolde, and her ryu, Cheshire, travelling on an a dangerous adventure that will see them encounter the magical underwater world of the giant ryu. But will Kohei find the answers that he is really looking for about his family, particularly about his parents, or will it bring up even more questions?

This is a wonderful fantasy story about family, friendship and how events of the past can influence who we are today.

It will be thoroughly enjoyed by all fantasy loving readers in middle to upper primary.

Reviewed by Sam