Accepting people for who they are is the gentle message of Bar-el’s latest, which readers may find reminiscent, if not duplicative, of the film How to Train Your Dragon.
Crispin Blaze, scion of a long line of fire-breathing dragons, is on the cusp of his seventh birthday, when he will finally come into his fiery powers. But when asked to light his birthday candles, he breathes whipped cream instead. While his younger sister is pleased, his parents are not—they want him fixed. At the doctor’s, he breathes Band-Aids; at fire-breathing practice, marshmallows (to go with all the flaming logs his friends have lit). Discouraged and unaccepted, Crispin runs away to a cave, where he meets a young knight who understands his plight and tries to help. But spicy foods fail to ignite Crispin’s fire, as do thinking mean thoughts and relaxation techniques. Homesick by nightfall, Crispin is escorted back to his parents by Sir George—at which point, a showdown between their fathers might have had a very unhappy ending but for Crispin’s splendid talent of breathing exactly what is needed. Bowers’ acrylic dragons are delightfully nonscary, and readers will be able to tell their thoughts and feelings with ease; Crispin’s dejected slouch as he runs away from home, toting a heavy suitcase, says it all, as do his befuddled expressions at his nonstandard eruptions.
Share this with your favorite atypical kids. (Picture book. 3-7)