A title with appeal for readers interested in dragons, this picture book doesn’t quite live up to other offerings with...


The high-interest topic of this picture book about “the last dragon” fails to realize its full potential.

Ultimon is the name of the titular last dragon, and he lives a pitiful existence in the sewers and subway tunnels of a contemporary city. Dreaming of the glory days of the past when other dragons “Ruled the waves / And breathed hot flames / In jewel-filled caves,” Ultimon mourns his solitary, pathetic life. Trite phrasing delivered in rhyme describes his plight as he laments, “And I am left / With thoughts that pass / Like grains of sand / In an hourglass.” Hoisting himself up and out of a manhole, he begs for pity and hears a voice calling to him from the heavens. He follows the cry, flying up to the stars and taking his place amid the constellations. Closing text asks readers to find “Draco, / The dragon star,” with accompanying art highlighting one bright yellow star in the sky. The afterword directs attention to the constellation Draco, which, unfortunately, is not easily discerned in the aforementioned closing art of the book proper with its yellow star. The illustrations throughout the picture book, however, do much to elevate the story as a whole, with lush, full-bleed acrylic paintings that will delight dragon aficionados.

A title with appeal for readers interested in dragons, this picture book doesn’t quite live up to other offerings with similar themes. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-399-25200-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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A wandering effort, happy but pointless.


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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Fans of the series will delight in seeing these favorites again, and Girl and Dragon should win some new ones.


A young girl and a dragon take their sweet friendship on an adventure.

After sharing the beginning and deepening of their friendship in Lovabye Dragon (2012) and Evermore Dragon (2015), Joosse puts this twosome on a journey to the high seas. Girl, forever sleeping in her same bed, dreams of sailing away. Dragon, snug in his lair, dreams of sailing with Girl. “Sometimes when friends share a heart / they dream the same thing, apart.” So they pack a wicker basket, a spyglass, and a banner and wave goodbye. The ocean provides plenty of interest with dolphins, whales, and Bad Hats with ratty beards (depicted as Vikings who differ only in the amount of their facial hair). There’s also a cat. The dreamy, highly textured oil pictures by Cecil in his signature palette of gentle grays, greens, and blues make the transition from land to sea seamlessly. With a tender nod to “The Owl and the Pussycat,” the scenery is full of diversions while the clever rhyming verse full of wordplay drifts the story farther from Home. The hazy images allow young minds to see this tiny princess with dark hair as racially ambiguous. As in many famous stories, one must leave home to find home, which is the same for these two loving friends. “With Dragon as boat / and Girl as crew / there was nothing—nothing—they couldn’t do!”

Fans of the series will delight in seeing these favorites again, and Girl and Dragon should win some new ones. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7313-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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