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Chin Chiang and the Dragon's Dance
Written and illustrated by Ian Wallace
Groundwood/Douglas & McIntyre, 1984. 0-88899-020-0
[U.S. English rights: Antheneum]
Medium: Water colour and pen & ink
Ages 5 - 8

It is the first day of the Year of the Dragon and Chin Chiang will be dancing the dragon dance with his grandfather for the first time. He is worried that he will not please his grandfather and he runs away, hiding behind a rabbit mask. Chin Chiang climbs to the roof of the public library where he meets an old woman, Pu Yee. The swirling shape of the dragon is repeated in the library's spiral staircase. When Pu Yee was younger she had danced the dragon dance, and with her encouragement, Chin Chiang regains his confidence and returns to the Festival. Together, he and Pu Yee dance in the dragon's tail and his grandfather declares that Chin Chiang is the best dragon's tail he has ever seen. The urban landscape is transformed into a magical place with an abundance of colour in the illustrations. Faraway China is subtly captured in Ian's depiction of Vancouver where old meets new.

Themes: Chinese New Year, Chinese culture, Dragon Dance, Multiculturalism, Growing Up; Intergenerational Relationships
Setting: Vancouver (Canada) - Chinatown

Buy Online: [paperback] Canada / U.S. / [hardcover] Canada

The Christmas Tree House
Written and illustrated by Ian Wallace
Kids Can Press, Toronto: 1976. Paperback. ISBN 0-919964-10-9
Medium: Pencil (on drawing paper)

Nick loves his neighbourhood where there is always something new to discover. Visiting the old Riverdale Zoo one day, Nick stops to talk with the bear and there he meets Gloria, a girl a little older than he. Soon they become friends and explore the nearby woods where they come across an unexpected sight: a tree house way up high. From the top they can see far and wide, and they decide on the spot to make it their own tree house -- their Christmas tree house as it is close to Christmas. But "the phantom" of the neighbourhood also knows about the house. Nick and Gloria have to face Don Valley Rose in order to enjoy the Christmas tree house. Black pencil drawings clearly define with light and shadow the world inhabited by Nick and Gloria. The tree house up high appears to be filled with a magic-like brightness, a special place for the children and Rose.

Themes: Christmas, Friendship, Neighbourhood, Intergenerational Relationships
Setting: Toronto, Ontario (Canada) - Cabbagetown, 1970s

The Sandwich
By Ian Wallace and Angela Wood
Kids Can Press, Toronto: 1975. Paperback. 0-919964-402-8.
Medium: Pen & ink
Ages 6 - 8

Many things have changed for Vincenzo since his mother died. His nonna has come to live with them to help, but now she is in the hospital. Vincenzo has to bring his lunch to school for the first time. At lunchtime everyone pulls out the same lunch – peanut butter and jam sandwiches – except for Vincenzo. His mortadella and provolone sandwich "stinks". Hurt by his friends' laughter, Vincenzo takes his sandwich back home uneaten. Talking with his father that evening, Vincenzo understands that being different isn't always bad. He brings another stinky meat sandwich to school. When his friends tease him, he takes a big bite. Soon everyone wants a taste too. Angela Wood's pen and ink illustrations are, by turns, realistic and decorative. They create a lightness to go with this gentle tale.

Themes: Being different; food; multiculturalism; death
Setting: Toronto, Ontario (Canada)

Buy Online: Canada / U.S.

Julie News
Written and illustrated by Ian Wallace
Kids Can Press, Toronto: 1974. Black and White. Paperback [ No ISBN #.]
Medium: Pental marker
Ages 7 - 9

Julie News delivers the paper every day rain or shine to people who live in Toronto's Cabbagetown. From Monday through Saturday she stops to chat with everyone from Miss Georgia, sitting on her rocker, to the Hing family, busy at work in their Chinese restaurant. When a developer threatens to take over their dwellings, Julie is the link that brings the tenants together in their fight to keep their homes. Ian's black on white dotted illustrations play with the concept of positive and negative, creating suggestive images which easily engage the imagination.

Themes: Independence, City Living, Neighbourhoods, Community Action, Multiculturalism
Setting: Toronto, Ontario (Canada) - Cabbagetown, 1970s


Copyright © Ian Wallace