PUFF THE MAGIC DRAGON POP-UP BOOK

The magic dragon rides again, this time incarnated in a pop-up.

In 2007, this artist and publisher did quite a nice picture book of the lyrics to the song written by Yarrow (of Peter, Paul & Mary) and Lipton. This is pretty much the same version, gussied up a little with pop-ups. Mostly, they take Puybaret’s gentle, smooth-edged, muted greens, browns, and blues and layer them three-dimensionally. Dolphins with mortarboards and gondolier shirts frolic, as do the peopleflies instead of dragonflies. In the end, it is a little girl (perhaps Jackie’s daughter, as he isn’t present) who comes to Honalee to awaken Puff once again to frolic in the autumn mist. A CD with four tunes is included, two of them versions of “Puff” but neither of those the original: One is a much-less-spirited version with Yarrow and his daughter Bethany singing; one is an instrumental. The other two numbers, also on the less-energetic side, are “Froggie Went A-Courtin’ ” and “The Blue Tail Fly.” The latter, although sung by generations of children, does have historical lyrics with ambiguous meanings related to slavery, and one wonders about its inclusion here. While this pop-up version adds little to Puff’s enduring charm, at least it does not distract. (Pop-up/picture book. 3-6)

 

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4027-8711-9

Page Count: 16

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2012

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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 friendship story for the young and vicious.

FIRE TRUCK VS. DRAGON

The ultimate showdown gets waylaid by an inconvenient friendship.

What could be cooler than a fire truck going head-to-head with a dragon? From the title, fans of Barton’s Shark vs. Train (illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld, 2010) will be prepped for some major fire-and-water action. The three child protagonists certainly anticipate a humdinger of a battle, but unfortunately, antipathy is not on the menu. Turns out, Fire Truck and Dragon are the best of buds. Worse, they won’t even take advantage of their natural gifts. A campout sees them making shadow puppets with flashlights. A barbecue is just a chance for them to show off their “free-range potato salad” and “firehouse beans.” And don’t even bother inviting them to your birthday party, unless you just want them spinning you around before you try for the piñata. When at last the two do face off, what occurs? A staring contest. But readers shouldn’t give up hope. They haven’t seen how they say good night. Barton deftly upsets expectations, both for those familiar with his previous book and newcomers who know what “versus” means. Laughs come equally from the disappointed children in the book as well as readers’ thwarted guesses as to what is going to happen. And McCloskey’s daffy cartoons make a perfect complement to Barton’s high-wired hilarity.

A friendship story for the young and vicious. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-52213-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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