Niemann’s Character Studies

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By: Steven Heller | September 25, 2008

Every so often in a sea of seasonal children’s books, one rises to the surface for its ability to capture the hearts and minds of its audience–as well as those who never thought they’d be the audience. Christoph Niemann’s The Pet Dragon is just such a feat. Niemann has managed to introduce his old and young readers to the wonders of Chinese pictographs through a cast of delightful characters destined to become classic. The Pet Dragon, aptly subtitled A Story about Adventure, Friendship, and Chinese Characters, is a buddy tale in which everything takes on the literal shape of a character. He masterfully (and even magically) superimposes and intertwines the narrative, pictographs, and protagonists in such a way that in the end, the reader can actually read Chinese. We’ve come to expect Niemann’s illustration to tickle the senses, and this book does that and more–it’s like a great big fortune cookie.