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KENNETH GRAHAME’S THE RELUCTANT DRAGON by Robert D. San Souci

KENNETH GRAHAME’S THE RELUCTANT DRAGON

By Robert D. San Souci (Adaptor) , John Segal (Illustrator)

Age Range: 7 - 9

Pub Date: April 1st, 2004
ISBN: 0-439-45581-2
Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Widely spaced lines of elegant type evoke the witty tone of Grahame’s classic, unlike either this stripped-down version of the text, or the accompanying small, childlike watercolors. (Why use teeny pictures in a really oversized format?) The reteller doesn’t edit out any of the tale’s incidents, though he has cut most of the dialogue and scene-setting descriptions, as well as some minor characters (also adding a touch of his own, by naming the boy “Jack”). The result is a story that moves along briskly, but at the expense of its literary texture; Jack’s mother barely has a speaking part, and the dragon’s generally peaceful nature is no longer mixed with that comically broad streak of outright laziness. Similarly, Segal’s tiny, stiffly gesticulating figures lend the episode a theatrical air, but are more typecast than the complex characters in Shepard’s deftly sophisticated drawings. The story’s theme of finding alternatives to violence always merits revisiting, but the original, however wordy it may seem by current standards, still makes a far richer reading experience. (Picture book. 7-9)