Dragon Delights: Tales of Wonder and Whimsy for Young Readers

"...combines a once-upon-a-time scenario with an appealingly contemporary vibe."

Jeanne Kaufman's Young Henry and the Dragon (Shenanigan, 2011; K-Gr 4) combines a once-upon-a-time scenario with an appealingly contemporary vibe. While adventuring through the forest, a squire finds himself facing nightfall with no way to start a food-cooking, toe-warming campfire. However, his map reveals that a blaze-breathing creature lives nearby and Henry heads to its lair to politely beg a flame. The fearsome beast is less than cooperative, but the brave youngster comes up with a clever plan: if he can get the dragon to laugh, it will emit a fiery snort.

Henry's efforts—wiggle-wagging his tongue and pulling on his ears, peeking upside down through his open legs, dancing a crazy jig, telling his best joke—will certainly amuse readers, but the dragon remains stone faced. It's not until an exasperated Henry gives up and stomps away—and unintentionally trips over a tree root—that "The dragon swayed from side to side/and twitched from head to claw./A smoking snort escaped its lips,/and then a huge GUFFAW!!"

Henry ends up with a flame and a new friend. Seasoned with both folktale elements and giggle-inducing humor, the merrily rhyming text never misses a beat. Daria Tessler's vibrantly colored paintings create a properly medieval mood (a gorgeous mix of pale green hues, crosshatched scales, and agile black-ink lines, the dragon could have stepped right out of a fairy tale) while playing up each and every pratfall. This book makes a clever contrast and possible segue to traditional dragon folklore.

Joy Fleishhacker - Curricululm Connections--School Library Journal

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