Multicultural Book Talk

By: Erica Twiss, EDEL 411 SECTION B

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About the Book

TITLE: The Pet Dragon: A Story about Adventure, Friendship, and Chinese Characters

AUTHOR: Christoph Niemann

ILLUSTRATOR: Christoph Niemann via Adobe Illustrator

GENRE: Multicultural picture book

TOPIC/THEME: The excitement of new adventures and the power of friendship


About the Author

Christoph Niemann was born in 1970 in Waiblingen, Germany, and moved to New York City in 1997. He is an illustrator and graphics designer in addition to being an author, and has created covers for The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, and The New York Times Magazine. While his book The Pet Dragon has not won any awards, Niemann has won awards from the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA), the Art Director's Club, and The Lead Awards.

Why is This Book Culturally Relevant?

In the Classroom

GRADE LEVEL: 2nd Grade

STANDARD: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.2.3: Describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges.

OBJECTIVE: The students will compare and contrast the reactions of the characters in the story to the way they have reacted or would react to the same events.


  • The teacher begins the lesson by asking the class about any recent events, conflicts, or challenges they have faced. The students will write down their situations on index cards and place them into a hat. The teacher will pick and read out a few events to the class, asking students to share some of the different ways they might react. She will then follow up by asking the class if they thought people from different countries and cultures would react differently, and why.
  • Before reading the story, the teacher will introduce the multicultural aspect of Chinese characters that will be integrated into the story. Ask them to take note of the ways the characters are represented within the illustration of what they represent.
  • The teacher will read the story aloud to the class, calling special attention to the major events as they occur. Ask the students to think back to when they have faced a similar situation, and how they or someone they knew reacted. Why did Lin's father react the way he did? Has your parent reacted the same way before? Would you react differently if you were in their position? Has a pet of yours ever gone missing? Would you react the same way Lin did? Why or why not?
  • After the completion of the book, the students will illustrate three major events or challenges faced by a character. They will describe what happened and how the characters reacted. They will then describe the way they have reacted to a similar situation. If they have never faced the same challenge, they will describe how they think they would act in such a situation. Do you think the culture the characters are a part of had an effect on the way they reacted? Do you think the culture you are a part of played a role in your reaction?


The Pet Dragon by etwiss

Book Information

Niemann, C. (2008). The pet dragon: a story about adventure, friendship, and Chinese characters. New York: Greenwillow Books.