The Lost Ryu (Paperback)

The Lost Ryu By Emi Watanabe Cohen Cover Image
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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



Chicago Public Library · Kids’ Indie Next List

A story of multigenerational pain, magic, and the lengths to which we'll go to protect the people we love.

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.


★ “A thought-provoking, magical middle-grade journey that explores sacrifices, faith in allies and the resilient hopefulness of a child. 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 (starred)

“A spellbinding mix of fantasy and alternate history that explores themes of generational trauma, resilience, and family love. Recommended.”
—School Library Journal

“A beautiful—though complex—exploration of generational trauma.”

“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 activism.”
—Horn Book

“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.”

“Emi Watanabe Cohen does an admirable job of breathing life into this story of multicultural identity, family secrets, the effect of guilt on family relationships, forgiveness, and hope for the future.”
—School Library Connection

“Gentle, humorous, and touching. A fantasy novel whose full-blooded mythology helps to emphasize the humanity of its characters.”

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. Her debut novel, The Lost Ryū, was an official Indie Next Seleciton.

Author Residence: Chicago, IL

Product Details
ISBN: 9781646142750
ISBN-10: 1646142756
Publisher: Levine Querido
Publication Date: December 12th, 2023
Pages: 208
Language: English