July/August 2022 Kids Indie Next List
“The Lost Ryū is a gem of a debut; a lovely tale of family and secrets, trauma and hope. The emotions soar like the dragon flying over his grandfather in Kohei’s treasured memory.”
— Suzi Hough, Hicklebee's, San Jose, CA
Kohei Fujiwara has never seen a big ryū in real life. Those dragons all disappeared from Japan after World War II, and twenty years later, they've become the stuff of legend. Their smaller cousins, who can fit in your palm, are all that remain. And Kohei loves his ryū, Yuharu, but…
…Kohei has a memory of the big ryū. He knows that's impossible, but still, it's there, in his mind. In it, he can see his grandpa – Ojiisan – gazing up at the big ryū with what looks to Kohei like total and absolute wonder. When Kohei was little, he dreamed he'd go on a grand quest to bring the big ryū back, to get Ojiisan to smile again.
But now, Ojiisan is really, really sick. And Kohei is running out of time.
Kohei needs to find the big ryū now, before it's too late. With the help of Isolde, his new half-Jewish, half-Japanese neighbor; and Isolde's Yiddish-speaking dragon, Cheshire; he thinks he can do it. Maybe. He doesn't have a choice.
In The Lost Ryū, debut author Emi Watanabe Cohen gives us a story of multigenerational pain, magic, and the lengths to which we'll go to protect the people we love.
About the Author
Emi Watanabe Cohen wrote her first novel when she was 12 years old – the most complete draft she can find clocks in at 234,780 words. That's over 1,000 pages! Thankfully, her editing skills have improved since then. Her more recent work involves Jewish and/or Japanese folklore, complicated families, and a dash of improbable magic. She is a graduate of Brandeis University, where she studied Creative Writing. The Lost Ryū is her debut novel.
[STAR] “A boy, his new friend and their dragons travel across Japan in search of a giant dragon they believe may heal his grandfather in this hopeful and stirring middle-grade debut.”—Shelf-Awareness
“Cohen interweaves Japanese dragon imagery, history, and post-war culture in a story that muses on the legacies of emotion and family experiences in shaping identity after war. She blends her fantastical imagery with historical fact and realism, bringing readers commentary and questions on cultural identity, racism, friendship, and political
"Cohen’s touching debut has the air of a modern fairy tale, forgoing tedious world building and delivering a tight, thoughtful story of a boy coming of age as he unlocks the mysteries of his family’s past. Deceptively simple, it’s an uncommonly sophisticated story in its exploration of intergenerational pain, family dynamics, and the surrounding emotions. Sweet and satisfying.” — Booklist
“Gentle, humorous, and touching. A fantasy novel whose full-blooded mythology helps to emphasize the humanity of its characters.” —Foreword Reviews
“Kohei and Isolde are a dynamic pair, with contrasting skills and such different life experiences that they are constantly challenging and learning from each other... The thread of quiet agony that runs under the misery of Kohei’s mother and the anger of his grandfather hints at the war and its devastating ripples across generations.”— Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
“A thought-provoking, magical middle-grade journey that explores sacrifices, faith in allies and the resilient hopefulness of a child.”
—Kit Ballenger, youth librarian, Help Your Shelf
“A boy, his new friend and their dragons travel across Japan in search of a giant dragon they believe may heal his grandfather in this hopeful and stirring middle-grade debut.”
“A beautiful—though complex—exploration of generational trauma.” — Kirkus Reviews
“Gentle, humorous, and touching, The Lost Ry? is a fantasy novel whose full-blooded mythology around dragons helps to emphasize the humanity of its characters."—Foreword Reviews
“Set 20 years after the bombs fell over Japan, Kohei, a young boy is determined to make his Ojiisan, his grandfather, happy again. With the help of new friends, he just may accomplish it. The Lost Ryu is a gentle novel in a world of dragons and loss, pain and healing, love and understanding. I was captivated by the story and rooting for Kohei the entire time.”
—Jen Steele, Boswell Book Company (Milwaukee, WI)