Dewdrop the fairy is willing to give every forest creature a hug—except for Sloppy the tree dragon. What has Sloppy done?
His name provides a clue, but Julian holds off on a direct answer until the end. Until then, Sloppy’s repeated pleas (“Why not?”) only earn stern refusals from the light-skinned, dragonfly-winged fairy: “You know why not.” Looking less like a conventional dragon than a sort of winged kangaroo covered in leaves, Sloppy cuts a decidedly fetching figure throughout—but neither pretending to be sad nor bringing homely presents like flowers or a big rock moves the angry urchin. So pitiable is Sloppy that readers will be mystified on his behalf. At last Dewdrop relents after seeing the sulky dragon kindly return a fallen baby bird to its nest…and is thereupon reminded what caused the rift in the first place, as Sloppy follows their makeup hug with a big, ultraslobbery lick. “Yuck!” In addition to giving Sloppy and Dewdrop a comfortable-looking forest to share with many agreeable friends, Julian displays a wry sense of humor in both Sloppy’s expressive body language and his considerate translations of the little bird’s dialogue, rendering all-purpose “Tweet”s as both “Help!” and “Thank you, Sloppy!”
Short, simple, sweet—and more than likely to spur some similarly slobbery affection between parent and child. (Picture book. 2-4)