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ROAR-CHOO!

A funny premise, executed with verve.

Being fierce is hard when you’re struggling with a cold.

A serpentine scaly green dragon with a flowing orange mane and big teeth and claws fills the page. Our hero explains to Phoenix how tough and terrifying dragons are. “We take on the world with a mighty ROOOOOAAAR…CHOO!” Dragon’s sneeze practically blows Phoenix out of the air. Phoenix tries to help by offering orange ginger tea, a blanket, a scarf, and bone broth soup, but Dragon is having none of it. Dragon’s attempts at roaring turn into big sneezes, however—until one fiery sneeze causes an inferno that Phoenix must douse. Phoenix, whose energy is now flagging, suggests taking a nap. One more sneeze later, and Phoenix is practically drooping with fatigue as the two friends switch roles. Using a palette of greens, oranges, and golds, Santat depicts the two creatures as larger-than-life cartoons with humorously expressive features. Every page is packed with color and action, but the text feels static in comparison, perhaps because of its small size and lack of variation (a missed opportunity for a typesetting design that matches the exuberance and personality of the two characters). Nevertheless, this simple but entertaining tale will be a pleasure to read aloud. An author’s note discusses the significance of the dragon and the phoenix in Chinese mythology.

A funny premise, executed with verve. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: April 9, 2024

ISBN: 9780593531754

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Rocky Pond Books/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2024

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DRAGONS LOVE TACOS

From the Dragons Love Tacos series

A wandering effort, happy but pointless.

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The perfect book for kids who love dragons and mild tacos.

Rubin’s story starts with an incantatory edge: “Hey, kid! Did you know that dragons love tacos? They love beef tacos and chicken tacos. They love really big gigantic tacos and tiny little baby tacos as well.” The playing field is set: dragons, tacos. As a pairing, they are fairly silly, and when the kicker comes in—that dragons hate spicy salsa, which ignites their inner fireworks—the silliness is sillier still. Second nature, after all, is for dragons to blow flames out their noses. So when the kid throws a taco party for the dragons, it seems a weak device that the clearly labeled “totally mild” salsa comes with spicy jalapenos in the fine print, prompting the dragons to burn down the house, resulting in a barn-raising at which more tacos are served. Harmless, but if there is a parable hidden in the dragon-taco tale, it is hidden in the unlit deep, and as a measure of lunacy, bridled or unbridled, it doesn’t make the leap into the outer reaches of imagination. Salmieri’s artwork is fitting, with a crabbed, ethereal line work reminiscent of Peter Sís, but the story does not offer it enough range.

A wandering effort, happy but pointless. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 14, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3680-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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SAIL AWAY DRAGON

Fans of the series will delight in seeing these favorites again, and Girl and Dragon should win some new ones.

A young girl and a dragon take their sweet friendship on an adventure.

After sharing the beginning and deepening of their friendship in Lovabye Dragon (2012) and Evermore Dragon (2015), Joosse puts this twosome on a journey to the high seas. Girl, forever sleeping in her same bed, dreams of sailing away. Dragon, snug in his lair, dreams of sailing with Girl. “Sometimes when friends share a heart / they dream the same thing, apart.” So they pack a wicker basket, a spyglass, and a banner and wave goodbye. The ocean provides plenty of interest with dolphins, whales, and Bad Hats with ratty beards (depicted as Vikings who differ only in the amount of their facial hair). There’s also a cat. The dreamy, highly textured oil pictures by Cecil in his signature palette of gentle grays, greens, and blues make the transition from land to sea seamlessly. With a tender nod to “The Owl and the Pussycat,” the scenery is full of diversions while the clever rhyming verse full of wordplay drifts the story farther from Home. The hazy images allow young minds to see this tiny princess with dark hair as racially ambiguous. As in many famous stories, one must leave home to find home, which is the same for these two loving friends. “With Dragon as boat / and Girl as crew / there was nothing—nothing—they couldn’t do!”

Fans of the series will delight in seeing these favorites again, and Girl and Dragon should win some new ones. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7313-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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