Little Emma’s cardboard creation conquers the world!
Egg Box Dragon’s eyes are made of “shiny bicycle reflectors,” and most of the rest of him is fashioned from cut-up pieces of an egg carton, painted green. When Emma brings him home, perched atop a pillow in her little red wagon, “everyone admired him enormously.” The local gardener declares, “that critter’s got magic”—a prophetic statement, as the next morning he develops a reputation as the supreme finder of lost articles. These include Emma’s dad’s glasses, next-door-neighbor Mrs. Hapgood’s tortoise, and little Tom’s missing soccer ball (called a “football” in this British import). Aided by the TV news, the Egg Box Dragon’s reputation spreads all the way to the queen. When she loses the biggest diamond in her crown, she sends a royal car to Emma’s house to ask for Egg Box Dragon’s help. He succeeds handily, receiving a medal and a whole chocolate cake. Smith’s illustrations are delightful, with an appealing abundance of white space, and a whole lot of fun with the diminutive draconic protagonist. Perhaps most delicious of all is his untraditional casting of palace personnel, from a queen of color through her evidently mostly female staff, including butler and soldiers. (Emma and her family present white.) But the story, a posthumous offering from the author of Watership Down, feels haphazard, all the way down to Emma’s nonrelationship with her creation.
Flashy but flat. (Picture book. 4-6)