A little boy has misplaced his pet dragon and must search for him all over the city, counting up from one dragon to 20 lanterns.
Black line pen-and-ink drawings in finely patterned detail depict a vital, lively New York City of the imagination. Colored-pencil images on each double-page spread are reserved for the city-specific items to be counted along the way, and the endpapers depict a loosely interpreted map indicating the sites. Readers first meet the adventurous dragon in all his greenness, as he is, of course, the representative of the number one. As he moves about the city, the unnamed little boy hypothesizes the locations at which he might find his pet. He is quite accurate in his guesses, but the dragon seems to be a master at blending in to the background, mysteriously having lost his color. But there are things to count, like two pink hot dogs in brown buns, three purple buses and four blue sailboats on the river, all the way up to 20 red lanterns in Chinatown, where he finally spots the dragon, “[r]ight where I left him.” If this is an attempt at reminding young readers that the dragon is imaginary, it’s a bit of an anticlimax, and it takes a great deal of the fun out of the previous travels around the city. But the visual appeal overcomes it all.
Lots for young readers to see and count. (Picture book. 2-5)