A fearsome dragon endangers the kingdom, the fate of which rests in the hands of the boy called…Boy.
High above the village sits the castle, where the powerful king has many brave knights to serve him. Nevertheless, the mountains nearby have been ravaged by a fire-breathing purple dragon. In the village on the edge of the burned forest lives Boy, with his mother and father. Boy cannot hear; he speaks “with dancing hands” and draws pictures in the sand. Nearby, the king and the dragon fight seemingly endless, unresolved battles, terrifying all the villagers. One day, intent on catching a small, green lizard, Boy runs right into the middle of the battle. The dragon and the king and his knights all yell at Boy to “MOVE!” But Boy doesn’t hear them. When he finally looks up, he sees several stunned faces, including the dragon’s. He tries to communicate in sign, then writes a message in the sand: “WHY ARE YOU FIGHTING?” After an awkward silence, the battling parties blame one another, then stop to explain, chat, and at last reconcile. The villagers thank Boy “with dancing hands” (represented and interpreted in the illustrations as a sign-language “thank you”). Cummings’ fable rolls out with poetic economy, heightened by Devries’ spacious page design. His medieval-Europe–ish setting has a few quirks (cacti?), but it’s mostly generic, down to the all-white human population.
Deftly persuasive. (Picture book. 3-5)