By Linda Sue Park
Coupled with Jennifer Black Reinhardt’s exuberant and whimsical water-color illustrations, Linda Sue Park’s story about a young dragon named Gondra celebrates the abundance and joy that can result from an amalgamation of differences. Gondra, whose gender is unidentified in the story, was born to a mother who comes from the West and a father who comes from the East.
Through the friendly banters of the mother and father, we learn the different depictions and receptions of dragons in Western and Eastern cultures. While Gondra’s father and mother may have different physical features (the father has blue and green scales; the mother is bronze) and different abilities (the father uses magic to fly, and the mother has wings), their love for Gondra are equally deep.
Equipped with parental love, Gondra develops self-confidence and takes pride in their mixed heritage. Park’s narrative offers an empowering message about differences and bi-racial identity.
Reminiscent of Aaron Becker’s wordless trilogy Journey and Akiko Miyakoshi’s The Tea Party in the Woods and The Way Home in the Night, JiHyeon Lee’s Door illuminates a child’s unique vision and ability to make connections in an adult world characterized by contempt and distrust.
A young boy and a mosquito-like creature both discover a key lying on the street. The boy follows the mosquito, which leads him to a door that transports him to a world of friendly and welcoming creatures. They invite the boy to share meals, play and partake in celebrations. Door is a heartwarming tale that attests to the power of maintaining one’s sense of wonder.