It doesn’t matter whether or not they can be seen; there’s a little bit of dragon inside each of us. Here’s to dragon-taming.

WHEN A DRAGON MOVES IN AGAIN

In this companion to When a Dragon Moves In (2011), it turns out that castles of any sort, not just sand, attract dragons, so the soon-to-be-born baby’s crib, with its crenellations and turrets at the corners, has an occupant even before mom gives birth.

The dragon and the boy start off doing their best to entertain the new baby, but their efforts are not always appreciated. The baby’s bottles are not toys, and no matter how it makes the baby giggle, mom and dad just don’t appreciate their son playing airplane in the house—and they’re not buying the boy’s explanation that the overturned plant is the dragon’s work, not his. The last straw is his father’s declaration that “we’ve had enough of this dragon business.” Well, the boy’s “had enough of this baby business!” Will the baby get sent back as the boy demands of his parents, or will the boy decide that maybe the baby’s not so bad after all? As in the previous title, the big question here is whether or not the dragon is imaginary. Regardless, the dragon is definitely the boy’s release—his way of engaging in naughty behavior and then blaming it on the dragon—when it’s tough to accept the new changes around the house that come with a baby. McWilliam’s pencil and digitally painted illustrations are wonderfully raucous and tongue-in-cheek, and his facial expressions are spot-on.

It doesn’t matter whether or not they can be seen; there’s a little bit of dragon inside each of us. Here’s to dragon-taming. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-9362613-5-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Flashlight Press

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story.

CARPENTER'S HELPER

A home-renovation project is interrupted by a family of wrens, allowing a young girl an up-close glimpse of nature.

Renata and her father enjoy working on upgrading their bathroom, installing a clawfoot bathtub, and cutting a space for a new window. One warm night, after Papi leaves the window space open, two wrens begin making a nest in the bathroom. Rather than seeing it as an unfortunate delay of their project, Renata and Papi decide to let the avian carpenters continue their work. Renata witnesses the birth of four chicks as their rosy eggs split open “like coats that are suddenly too small.” Renata finds at a crucial moment that she can help the chicks learn to fly, even with the bittersweet knowledge that it will only hasten their exits from her life. Rosen uses lively language and well-chosen details to move the story of the baby birds forward. The text suggests the strong bond built by this Afro-Latinx father and daughter with their ongoing project without needing to point it out explicitly, a light touch in a picture book full of delicate, well-drawn moments and precise wording. Garoche’s drawings are impressively detailed, from the nest’s many small bits to the developing first feathers on the chicks and the wall smudges and exposed wiring of the renovation. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12320-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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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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