The Three Hares: The Jade Dragonball
Scott Lauder and David Ross
Neem Tree Press Limited
Published September 5, 2019
About The Three Hares: The Jade Dragonball
Sara Livingstone’s school trip to the Beijing Palace Museum takes a terrifying turn when an encounter with the ancient Qingming Scroll thrusts her a thousand years into China’s past. With secrets in the shadows and danger around every corner, Sara relies on her wits and her Granny Tang’s stories to survive. As dark forces gather, she must take her place in a cosmic battle and find the courage to face an unworldly ancient magic.
I’m a bit confused by this book. I like that it shows two points of view, alternating them in large chunks of the book. I kept waiting for the two to merge in some way, but they didn’t. Both characters were interesting, even easy to identify with. I loved the intrigue that telling both stories side by side created.
The plot was a bit disappointing to me, though. I felt like it sort of restarted a few times through the book. We meet Sara and she has a quest. But then she has a new quest. And then a new, new quest. But I didn’t feel like there was really a clear resolution. A lot gets left hanging on the last page.
It also felt like things sort of came out of nowhere a few times. Suddenly Sara’s going to Ireland. Now she’s applying for a job. Why? What? Where did that come from? Why was it critical to her quest and the story that’s being told here? I didn’t see the connections.
Sometimes that sort of last-page hook really works– doesn’t it seem like every series now has a big hook at the end? (A CURSE SO DARK AND LONELY, I’m giving you the side-eye here…) So that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I guess I just expected from the title and the quest set-up that Sara’s journey would be to find the three hares and confront a bad guy of some sort. But that isn’t really the story that THE THREE HARES: THE JADE DRAGONBALL tells.
I really liked the message about respect for ritual and for elders. When Sara is thrust back to ancient China, she faces lots of situations where she must rely on tradition and myth to guide her, and I found that to be a really intriguing theme. It reminded me a bit of THE DRAGON WARRIOR by Katie Zhao.
All in all, THE THREE HARES had some intriguing elements, but I felt it needed a more organized plot to make it a book I’d want to read again. Readers interested in a Chinese setting and mythology will find interesting characters and setting, though.
Recommended for Ages 10 to 12.
Sara’s mother is Chinese and her father is Scottish. Most other central characters are Chinese.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
None. Some kids tease Sara about a boy, but they appear to be just friends.
Some characters are gods/goddesses from Chinese mythology.
Brief but violent descriptions of death or inury by a sword. Situations of peril.
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