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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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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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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