Drake the young dragon learns that tradition has two sides, and only one is buttered.
Drake lives with his father, a blustering, flame-belching, butterball-bellied bully in a wife-beater, who has decided that it’s time that Drake “behaved like a real dragon” and “burn a few houses.” “But why?” Drake wonders. “It’s tradition!” Flying over the village in search of a suitable house to immolate, Drake espies a perfect wooden target. Just as he is working up a head of steam, a boy runs out, and they quickly bond over the strictures of parents. “And if you don’t do what he says, will you be told off?” The boy suggests an alternative: the schoolhouse. The students disarm Drake with their admiration, however, and so it goes at each new venue: something intervenes to forestall Drake’s scorched-earth tradition. Lacroix’s narrative is modestly wordy for a picture book but not aimlessly so, and the storyline has a pleasingly low-key humor that neatly displays the blinkered side of tradition. The design of the book, along with Badel’s illustrations—two-page spreads in which a complete page of elegantly wonky watercolor artwork bleeds into the opposite text page—gives the story an exceptional sense of flow. Drake is pudgily adorable, and the humans (all evidently white) have a Quentin Blake–esque air to them.
One of those modest efforts that throws off more light than one might expect from the humble glow of its parts. (Picture book. 4-8)