A lonely little girl befriends a wingless dragon.
Every day, in a seaside village “with cobblestone streets, a water fountain, and an ice cream stand,” Rosie watches the other children laugh and play. She wishes they “would see her.” Every day, from his tree overlooking the village, Rasmus watches birds twirl in the sky. He wishes he could fly. When Rosie approaches Rasmus’ tree and he offers her a flower, the two become fast friends. Rosie teaches him to jump rope and pirouette; Rasmus shows her his flying kite, floating balloons, and favorite book (starring a soaring dragon). With clever kid logic, Rosie devises adaptations to help him fly, encouraging him in speech bubbles to no avail—until, out-of-the-blue, Rasmus sprouts his own wings. His wish granted, Rasmus sadly bids Rosie adieu (why he must leave is never explained); Rosie sadly resumes watching the other children play until, one day….Geddes’ large-font text is lightly rhythmic; her pale, fuzzy pastels are soothing and humorous, and her protagonists’ sniffles and smiles endearing. Unfortunately, her heavy focus on Rosie’s helping Rasmus to fly turns him into a project as much as a friend. Additionally, if readers interpret Rasmus’ missing wings as a disability, his obsession with flying and his abrupt wing growth may call to mind such overused tropes as a disabled character pining to be nondisabled and their miraculous recovery. Rosie is white; there is some diversity among the other children.
Despite its cuddly characters, this uplifting but unevenly developed friendship tale doesn’t quite soar. (Picture book. 4-6)