Kirkus Reviews QR Code


by Robert Burleigh & illustrated by Mary GrandPré

Age Range: 3 - 6

Pub Date: Oct. 11th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-399-25200-6
Publisher: Philomel

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)