When a Dragon Moves In by Jodi Moore, illustrated by Howard McWilliam
One day at the beach, a little boy builds the perfect sandcastle and immediately a dragon moves right in. Together the boy and dragon roast marshmallows, fly kites, float in the water, and defend the sandcastle against bullies who would knock it down. The little boy tries to disguise that he is hosting a dragon in his castle, but then wants to tell his family about it. He can’t get his mother’s attention, his father just tickles him, and his sister insists she knows better. But trouble comes along with dragons too, and perhaps this one is more trouble than he’s worth. Perhaps.
Moore uses the engaging second-person point of view, referring to the reader as “you.” It draws you directly into the story and gives it a strong and inviting structure as well. The story moves quickly from one moment to the next, which creates a vibrant feel to the story. It’s a story that speaks to the power of imagination in creating a special time.
McWilliam’s art has a cinematic quality to it that children will immediately respond to. He captures emotions on faces with comedic skill. This is a refreshing style to have in a children’s book because it closely mimics what they see in films. It’s a friendly and lovely thing to see.
A great beach read, this will have children scrambling to get their castles up and welcoming to dragons. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from copy received from Flashlight Press.
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Rapunzel and the Seven Dwarfs by Willy Claflin, illustrated by James Stimson
This book is a Maynard Moose tale just like The Uglified Duckling. This fractured fairy tale takes Rapunzel and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and mixes them wildly together into quite a story. Readers who know both stories will enjoy this most, because of the silliness of the mash up. Here Rapunzel is a girl who has trouble keeping her long tresses clean, so a helpful witch puts her in a tower. She is discovered by a portly knight who attempts to climb her hair, but instead due to his bulk, launches her out of the tower and into a pond. Enter the seven dwarfs, who rescue her from the water and solver her hair issues by shaving her head bald. Meanwhile, the witch heads to the home of the dwarfs dressed as a kindly rhinoceros (yes, you read that right) and tempts her to each poisoned watermelon. I’ll leave the final twists of the tale for you to discover, and my there are plenty of twists!
When I first started reading this book, I tried it silently to myself. Told by Maynard Moose, the story has some odd language twists in it and some words that are new but will make sense. The book doesn’t work read silently. Happily, I tried it aloud and the elements all fell into place. If you are wondering as someone who will read it aloud how to do it, there is a CD with the book where you can hear Maynard’s voice.
The humor here is broad and great fun. There are particular lines that had me laughing out loud. I enjoyed the “eight or nine seven dwarfs” and the series of misunderstandings as the prince calls out to Rapunzel to lower her hair. It all adds to the zaniness of the story. The writing is crafted to be read aloud, giving any reader plenty of opportunity to shine.
Stimson’s art plays along with the humor of the book. The homemade rhino costume, the Sleeping Punzel Museum, the rotund little prince, and the issues of long hair. The art is computer smooth and sleek.
This will read aloud well to older elementary-age children who will really enjoy the humor. Recommended for ages 7-9, though completely appropriate for younger listeners.
Reviewed from library copy.
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