Great splatters of draconic mucus aren’t enough to make this story soar.

READ REVIEW

BE A GOOD DRAGON

Enzo the dragon has a most disastrous cold.

“When cinders come showering down from the skies… // And thunder is rumbling, / and smoke burns your eyes… / Then run like a rabbit! Fly like the breeze— // Enzo the dragon is starting to sneeze.” Enzo’s mother tells him to cover his sneeze, but he does not. It is so explosive it launches him into the air, and the wingless dragon flies over fields and pastures toward town. The peasants, a diverse bunch, flee their thatched homes. A dark-skinned royal magician appears on the scene at the behest of the king and the queen and sensibly prescribes fluids and rest. Like many a cold-sufferer before him, Enzo resists: he wants to be made well instantly and doesn’t need a nap. Along come the knights, but even they can’t get close to Enzo. The magician makes a vat of “abraca-brew,” which Enzo drinks before falling asleep. Once he wakes, he’s better. The text closes by counseling readers to “be a good dragon” and cover their sneezes. Cyrus’ double-page spreads are bright and full of sneeze-driven energy, and green-scaled, knobby-crested Enzo is appealing. The rhyming text amusingly reproduces Enzo’s stuffy-nosed entreaties for help among other onomatopoeia, but the story is the weak link. Literal-minded youngsters will wonder what’s going on when both the wizard and Enzo seem to capitulate to each other, the former by brewing the brew and the latter by drinking it and then napping. Is it a trick? A sleeping potion? Or just inconsistent?

Great splatters of draconic mucus aren’t enough to make this story soar. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-58536-383-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 22, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 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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A slim, feel-good story, as light and airy as the rainbows that grace its pages.

NOT QUITE NARWHAL

Being true to yourself means embracing differences and striding (or paddling) fearlessly into the world.

Emerging from a giant clam, baby unicorn Kelp lives among narwhals, believing he’s just not as good as everyone else at swimming, appreciating a squid dinner, or breathing underwater (he sports a glass diving helmet—with a gasket-encircled hole for his horn). Swept close to shore one day, he spies for the first time an adult unicorn and, struck by the resemblance to himself, totters onto solid ground. The “land narwhals” explain to him that they—and he—are unicorns. Kelp’s blissful new life of learning to do special unicorn things amid sparkles and rainbows is punctuated by sadness over the narwhal friends he left behind. Upon returning to his watery home, Kelp learns that the narwhals knew all along that he was actually a unicorn. Following a brief internal tussle over where he truly belongs, Kelp recognizes that he doesn’t have to be just one thing or another and happily unites his friends at the shoreline. As seen in Sima’s soft, digital illustrations, Kelp is adorable, and she evokes both undersea and aboveground environments artfully. The message is an appealing one that could speak to many family situations relating to multiple identities, but the central dilemma is resolved so quickly and easily that there is little room for emotional engagement.

A slim, feel-good story, as light and airy as the rainbows that grace its pages. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-6909-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2016

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