Tell Me a Dragon

Tell Me a Dragon by Jackie Morris

Explore the world of wondrous dragons that come in all sizes and colors.  There are huge white dragons that fly through night skies, dragons that breathe flower petals not flame, and enormous dragons with tails as long as rivers that share cupcakes.  There are also tiny dragons, dragons made of fire, dragons that whisper stories and songs in your ear, and dragons that curl around you in your bed.  So the question is, with so many dragons what does yours look like?

Morris has created a book that is a lyrical song in honor of individuality and imagination.  Her dragons are all very different but all have curling talons and gleaming eyes in their combination of feline and lizard.  Dragons here are not to be feared but adored as the illustrations show.  The range of dragons from ice to water to fire and beyond is a delight to page through. 

This book is a great conversation starter or would serve as a wonderful basis for dragon art where children could draw their own dragon.  My 8-year-old is often unwilling to indulge in the questions of picture books anymore, but this one really spoke to him.  By the end, he had his own large dragon firmly in mind, a combination of all of the elements with all sorts of fire and ice breath and a deep blue-black color.  He was also eager to look at the end pages of the book and select which of the eggs his dragon would emerge from. 

A book that is beautiful in its own right and one that also demands that children participate, dream and wish on their own as well.  Appropriate for ages 4-8.

Reviewed from library copy.

Featured on 7-Imp.

Odd and the Frost Giants

Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Brett Helquist.

Odd’s father died on a Viking ship, leaving Odd and his mother behind.  A few weeks later, Odd tried to chop down a tree with his father’s axe and ended up shattering his leg.  Now he still walks with a limp and is teased and mocked at home.  Tempers are rising in the village because spring should have come but winter continues its hold on the land.  Odd heads off to his father’s hunting lodge to escape the increasing teasing.  There he meets three animals: an enormous bear, a fox and an eagle.  The three turn out to be Norse gods who are trapped in animal form and banished from Asgard which has been invaded by Frost Giants.  Can one limping boy and three animals get back into the land of Asgard, bring peace and return spring to the land?

Neil Gaiman has written a small jewel of a book about an unexpected hero.  It is a focused story told in a voice that is meant to be shared aloud.  Odd is a pleasing character.  A smart boy with a sad past who is braver and stronger than anyone knew.   Gaiman’s language here is plain and simple, the story short and fast-moving.  Yet at the same time this is not a shallow piece.  It has heart and plenty of depth.  The occasional illustrations by Brett Helquist add to its friendliness for young readers and offer tantalizing glimpses of Odd’s world.

Any teacher doing a unit on mythology should add this book to your list.  It will also be useful with reluctant readers who will enjoy the direct story and the fast pacing.  Appropriate for ages 8-11, younger for reading aloud.  This is a perfect book for cold winter nights.

Reviewed from library copy.

Reviewed by Tor, Charlotte’s Library, Eva’s Book Addiction, and Chasing Ray.

Mortal Engines and Peter Jackson?

The Internet is rumbling with a rumor that director Peter Jackson will be adapting Philip Reeve’s Mortal Engine series for film.  Jackson has yet to confirm or deny this, but what exciting news for fans of the series!

Via Cinematical.