A vanilla yarn best suited for bedtime.

THE DRAGON RIDERS

From the Dragon Brothers series , Vol. 3

Two brothers, their dog, and their dragon conclude their adventures in this final installment of a trilogy.

Orange-haired, pale-skinned brothers Paddy and Flynn live on a remote island that boasts both alluringly titled locales and fearsome fire-breathing dragons. Falling in step with their previous escapades (The Dragon Hunters and The Dragon Tamers, both 2017), the boys, their dog, Coco, and their dragon, Elton John, go for a wild ride up to Mount Astonishing, where the dragons annually congregate. However, the surprise presence of two human boys doesn’t go over well, and Elton John must find a way to save the brothers and get them home before bedtime. As in the two earlier books, Russell maintains a narrative style of lilting quatrains in iambic pentameter, creating a lyrical read-aloud with a rhythmic flow. However, his worldbuilding—with its fantastic island containing such wondrous places as the Ridge of Rising Flame and Magic Terraces—never really breathes any life into the enticingly titled places and only briefly touches upon them in the boys’ expeditions. The overall effect is resigned and docile; those seeking a dramatic dragon offering will be disappointed by the gentle cadence and muted adventures. Choi’s illustrations range from small black-and-white sketches to large, soft-focus, full-color renderings that help reinforce this tale’s quiet nature. Readers drawn by the augmented-reality feature will be disappointed to find it’s just the same map as in the previous two books.

A vanilla yarn best suited for bedtime. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4926-4867-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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A wandering effort, happy but pointless.

DRAGONS LOVE TACOS

From the Dragons Love Tacos series

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 28, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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Likely to cause some imaginative prancing among unicorn and kitty lovers.

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ITTY-BITTY KITTY-CORN

Is Kitty only a kitten? Or might she be a noble unicorn?

Inspired by the unicorn on her poster, Kitty crafts a perfect horn and admires herself in the mirror. She feels “unicorn-y.” Her friends disagree. “ ‘You’re not a unicorn, putty-pie,’ says Parakeet. / ‘You’re curled up like a cat, fluffy-fry,’ says Gecko.” So Kitty uncurls to prance and gallop, but her detractors point out her tiny tail. With some effort she plumps it up. They tell her she will never be a unicorn because she meows like a cat; this, of course, prompts her to let out a loud “NEIGH!” Parakeet and Gecko are having none of it, each time varying their mild name-calling. As the sun dips low, Kitty’s sure her long shadow looks like a unicorn’s—until a real unicorn clops into view. Gecko and Parakeet are impressed, and Kitty feels insignificant. But this unicorn has a secret…a pair of fluffy, pink kitty ears the same pink as Kitty’s. They can be kitty-corns together, best friends. Unicorn fans will definitely identify with Hale’s protagonist and respond well to Pham’s bright cartoons, laid out as spot illustrations that pop against the mostly all-white backgrounds. The way Kitty’s friends dismissively poke fun with their name-calling may give some readers pause, but the be-true-to-the-inner-you message and the expressive characterizations add appeal. (This book was reviewed digitally with 12-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 51.2% of actual size.)

Likely to cause some imaginative prancing among unicorn and kitty lovers. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-5091-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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