In which Annie (high school teacher, mother of two young girls and a younger boy) and her aunt Deborah (children's bookseller, mother of two young women in their 20s) discuss children's books and come up with annotated lists.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

... and more dragons

Dear Annie,

I promise I'll get to Tui's request about New York and San Francisco books in the next post (SF especially -- as you pointed out we've hit the NY question before).  But Holly's delightful list of dragon books made me want to add to it.

Reluctant (but loquacious) dragon
Kenny and the Dragon, which Ian is so fond of, is an homage to The Reluctant Dragon, written in 1898 by Kenneth Grahame of Wind in the Willows fame.  The original illustrations (see left) were by Ernest H. Shepard who drew Winnie-the-Pooh.  The plot is essentially the same: boy, dragon, and over-the-hill dragon-fighter collude to stage a battle and save the dragon.  I love that Tony DiTerlizzi names the boy (Kenny) and the dragon (Graham) after Grahame.

Holly and Ian are probably already familiar with
Raising Dragons by Jerdine Nolan, another lovely gentle dragon book.  A farm girl discovers a large smooth rock.  One night there's a very loud crack, and she discovers a baby dragon emerging:
As I stroked his nose, a sweet little purring whimper came from him.  As I touched skin to scale, I knew I was his girl and he was my dragon.  I named him Hank.
Dragon and girl spend lyrical time together as he grows, but soon he makes so much of a sensation in the neighborhood that she feels she must return him to the land of the dragons.  She returns home with more dragon eggs, though, and we are left to wonder what happens next.

There's No Such Thing as a Dragon
by Jack Kent is a tale about denial.  The books's aesthetic vibrates with the feel of an earlier era -- it's vintage 1975.
Billy Bixbee was rather surprised when he woke up one morning and found a dragon in his room.  It was a small dragon, about the size of a kitten.  The dragon wagged its tail happily when he patted its head.
 He goes downstairs and tells his mother about the dragon.  She tells him there's no such thing as a dragon.  By the time he gets back to his room, the dragon has grown to "almost the size of a dog." Every time it's ignored or denied, the dragon (very friendly) grows a bit bigger.  Grown-ups continue to repeat the title phrase, and it keeps growing (see cover illustration).  After the dragon grows so large that it walks off with the house, the parents finally acknowledge its existence, at which point it shrinks back down to sit-on-your-bed size.  It's a bit of a moral lesson -- don't ignore the elephant in the room! -- but it's also quite entertaining.

On to San Francisco.



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