An immigrant boy calls on St. Michael to chase away his dragon-shaped fears in this picture book by debut author Wolfe and illustrator Malara (A Child’s Guide to Confession, 2019).
In what appears to be the early 20th century, Sasha moves to a big city from a small village in Russia. It’s a frightening place; his Baba (grandmother) is apparently sick, American boys make fun of him, and too-tall buildings hide the sky. At night, Sasha sees shadows of monsters, and one night, a shadowy dragon crawls out from under his bed. Sasha begs for help from St. Michael, the archangel, through the icon on his bedroom wall. At this point, Malara mimics the authentic style of Russian Orthodox icons, contrasting with the rest of the illustrations. The angel defeats the dragon—and Sasha’s fears. When the boy awakens to a world filled with light, revealed dramatically in the hues of Malara’s paintings, he confronts his fears of the mean kids, and his grandmother’s sickness, with gestures of peace. Adults may wish to read this book together with youngsters due to its challenging vocabulary and sometimes-frightening images. However, Sasha’s spiritual journey is sure to have strong appeal.
A beautifully poetic book about the immigrant experience, facing fears, and faith.