This is one terribly good dragon tale that will leave readers laughing and with an appreciation for the healing power of a...

DRAGON WAS TERRIBLE

In this comical tale, one kingdom is fed up with its disobedient dragon.

This book may seem like your classic “bad dragon gone terrible” tale, complete with a king, a castle, and knights, but the text and illustrations work together to offer readers a different story—one that is modern and timeless. Dragon isn’t terrible in the way readers might suspect. Dragon is actually “super terrible” and spends his days spitting on cupcakes (“Who does that?!”) and stealing candy from baby unicorns (“Honestly, that’s terrible”). The illustrations add depth to each character and successfully integrate one contemporary character (a bespectacled, light-skinned child wearing sneakers and carrying a banjo) into the historical setting, which, in conjunction with the minimalist backdrop and modern narrative voice, creates relevancy and fosters a connection with readers. A valiant effort is made to include diverse characters, with a brown child, a brown wizard, and knights of varying skin tones. Perhaps the book’s most remarkable feat is its ability to gently and humorously suggest alternative, peaceable methods for dealing with negative emotions and destructive behavior while also reminding readers of the cathartic power of a good story. Astute readers will be able to pinpoint the moment when Dragon’s heart becomes open to change.

This is one terribly good dragon tale that will leave readers laughing and with an appreciation for the healing power of a good book. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 23, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-374-30049-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned.

WHY A DAUGHTER NEEDS A MOM

All the reasons why a daughter needs a mother.

Each spread features an adorable cartoon animal parent-child pair on the recto opposite a rhyming verse: “I’ll always support you in giving your all / in every endeavor, the big and the small, / and be there to catch you in case you should fall. / I hope you believe this is true.” A virtually identical book, Why a Daughter Needs a Dad, publishes simultaneously. Both address standing up for yourself and your values, laughing to ease troubles, being thankful, valuing friendship, persevering and dreaming big, being truthful, thinking through decisions, and being open to differences, among other topics. Though the sentiments/life lessons here and in the companion title are heartfelt and important, there are much better ways to deliver them. These books are likely to go right over children’s heads and developmental levels (especially with the rather advanced vocabulary); their parents are the more likely audience, and for them, the books provide some coaching in what kids need to hear. The two books are largely interchangeable, especially since there are so few references to mom or dad, but one spread in each book reverts to stereotype: Dad balances the two-wheeler, and mom helps with clothing and hair styles. Since the books are separate, it aids in customization for many families.

New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned. (Picture book. 4-8, adult)

Pub Date: May 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-6781-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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A wandering effort, happy but pointless.

DRAGONS LOVE TACOS

From the Dragons Love Tacos series

The perfect book for kids who love dragons and mild tacos.

Rubin’s story starts with an incantatory edge: “Hey, kid! Did you know that dragons love tacos? They love beef tacos and chicken tacos. They love really big gigantic tacos and tiny little baby tacos as well.” The playing field is set: dragons, tacos. As a pairing, they are fairly silly, and when the kicker comes in—that dragons hate spicy salsa, which ignites their inner fireworks—the silliness is sillier still. Second nature, after all, is for dragons to blow flames out their noses. So when the kid throws a taco party for the dragons, it seems a weak device that the clearly labeled “totally mild” salsa comes with spicy jalapenos in the fine print, prompting the dragons to burn down the house, resulting in a barn-raising at which more tacos are served. Harmless, but if there is a parable hidden in the dragon-taco tale, it is hidden in the unlit deep, and as a measure of lunacy, bridled or unbridled, it doesn’t make the leap into the outer reaches of imagination. Salmieri’s artwork is fitting, with a crabbed, ethereal line work reminiscent of Peter Sís, but the story does not offer it enough range.

A wandering effort, happy but pointless. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 14, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3680-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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