Wicks (Pepe and Seymour’s Adventure, 2009) delivers a charming children’s book paired with delightful illustrations by Essa, structured around the adventures of a princess and her new friend, a rare purple and white “drageena.”
Told in nine small episodes, these quick, often silly adventures showcase Princess Awemina, whose loneliness prompts Prince Mineko to seek out a drageena—a sort of half-dog, half-dragon with tiny wings and a detachable nose—to be her friend and companion while he’s off attending to his princely duties. Though this may seem like a typical fantasy/adventure setup, once the drageena comes into the story, she takes over, and the princess and the drageena’s adventures charmingly become the book’s focus. Drageenas find adventure irresistible, no matter how big or small the escapade may be. The two friends search for cookies, shoes, and blockleberries, the grape-looking fruit drageenas prefer. The drageena decides on a name for herself, hunts for another drageena’s lost nose, participates in a blockleberry pie-eating contest and looks for a home. The divergent, fast-paced adventures allow readers to watch Awemina and the drageena’s friendship blossom. The adventures aren’t big, broad or sweeping; they’re similar to the day-to-day activities of ordinary people, such as having a picnic and trying on shoes. It’s somewhat unusual to find a relatable story about royalty and imaginary creatures, so young readers will appreciate the ability to tag along. Essa’s simple, colorful illustrations enjoyably mix a hand-drawn aesthetic with digital backgrounds, and young readers will appreciate the characters’ expressiveness.
Fun, cute illustrations bring this simple story to life.