In the end, the most notable feature of the book may be that the setting is a sleep-away summer camp rather than a backyard

READ REVIEW

A CAMPFIRE TAIL

There’s s’more to camping with a dragon than meets the eye.

Lots of kids are scared at their first day of sleep-away camp, and dragons are no different. Taking pity on a quaking reptile, the human narrator offers to be his buddy. A dragon should be a fun companion, but when swimming, sailing, tug of war, archery, horseback riding, and even a puppet show go wrong, the two become the camp pariahs. The narrator even begins to rethink their choice of buddy. When Dragon’s attempts to remove a spider get a bit incendiary, it’s the final straw, and the narrator throws him out of the tent. Then Dragon disappears. All the campers go searching for him, becoming frightened by the growling of something big and scary in the forest. Then Dragon appears, and “the angry creature is gone.” The bulk of the book is a pedantic tale advocating patience with those who are different, while the climax is simply confusing: Was Dragon the “angry creature,” or did he scare one away, as the campers believe? Happily the bright and cheery illustrations compensate for the text. Though the dragon remains mute, the art renders him expressive and emotional. The narrator is a blond, pigtailed, bespectacled white child, while the other campers display some diversity.

In the end, the most notable feature of the book may be that the setting is a sleep-away summer camp rather than a backyard . (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4549-1993-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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A wandering effort, happy but pointless.

DRAGONS LOVE TACOS

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

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.

HEY, DUCK!

A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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