An imaginative, smile-inducing, beautifully designed introduction to a favorite magical beast.

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Dragons Are Real

An illustrated picture book challenges readers’ notions of what real dragons are like—and tells them how to act when they meet the creatures in person.

After a set of lovely endpapers that look like embossed leather on a Renaissance tome, this volume opens with a faux cover inside, giving readers the sense that they are seeing a story within a story. The helpful introductory text by Budayr (A Year in the Secret Garden, 2014, etc.), presented next to a village-burning dragon straight out of a medieval bestiary, sets the tone for the tale: “I bet you think you know the TRUTH about REAL DRAGONS,” the book wagers, while scrawled in big green letters across the page, readers are assured, “You don’t!” The beasts aren’t village burners, gold hoarders, or princess eaters. Then, as readers turn the page, the faux storybook packaging disappears and the gorgeously rendered creatures soar to life, showing a hot dog–roasting dragon using his fire for the good of woodland creatures and a cheerful cohort flapping his wings frantically to keep up with a flock of storks (“Real dragons can fly but not very high”). Dragons turn out to be poetry aficionados who have memorized such vast quantities of rhymes that they’re likely to put their audience (here a host of enchanted creatures and characters, including unicorns, griffins, gnomes, elves, wizards, and a tiny hot dog–eating dragon from a previous illustration) to sleep. Instead of hoarding gold, dragons stockpile books, though they’d be happy to share their reading time with a friend. Dragons love to dance (and a crowd of children from different ethnicities joins in—some pulled right off the ground). In this impressive tale, the beasts are ticklish, disguise artists, have a wicked sweet tooth (“They can smell something sweet and sugary from hundreds of feet away”), adore riddles, and are ready to be anyone’s friend. With such striking and humorous pictures by veteran artist Welply (The Random House Book of Bible Stories, 2015, etc.), reminiscent of Mark Teague’s lighthearted dinosaurs, the book delivers friendly, fantastical dragons that should surely charm children. Budayr’s evocative vocabulary may prove difficult for beginning readers (“snort, kajort, and galumph”; “whirring, churning, scheming”), but lap readers should love the percussive sounds, and independent readers may enjoy the demanding word choice.

An imaginative, smile-inducing, beautifully designed introduction to a favorite magical beast.

Pub Date: May 5, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-936426-20-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Audrey Press

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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ABIYOYO RETURNS

The seemingly ageless Seeger brings back his renowned giant for another go in a tuneful tale that, like the art, is a bit sketchy, but chockful of worthy messages. Faced with yearly floods and droughts since they’ve cut down all their trees, the townsfolk decide to build a dam—but the project is stymied by a boulder that is too huge to move. Call on Abiyoyo, suggests the granddaughter of the man with the magic wand, then just “Zoop Zoop” him away again. But the rock that Abiyoyo obligingly flings aside smashes the wand. How to avoid Abiyoyo’s destruction now? Sing the monster to sleep, then make it a peaceful, tree-planting member of the community, of course. Seeger sums it up in a postscript: “every community must learn to manage its giants.” Hays, who illustrated the original (1986), creates colorful, if unfinished-looking, scenes featuring a notably multicultural human cast and a towering Cubist fantasy of a giant. The song, based on a Xhosa lullaby, still has that hard-to-resist sing-along potential, and the themes of waging peace, collective action, and the benefits of sound ecological practices are presented in ways that children will both appreciate and enjoy. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83271-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001

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A DOG NAMED SAM

A book that will make young dog-owners smile in recognition and confirm dogless readers' worst suspicions about the mayhem caused by pets, even winsome ones. Sam, who bears passing resemblance to an affable golden retriever, is praised for fetching the family newspaper, and goes on to fetch every other newspaper on the block. In the next story, only the children love Sam's swimming; he is yelled at by lifeguards and fishermen alike when he splashes through every watering hole he can find. Finally, there is woe to the entire family when Sam is bored and lonely for one long night. Boland has an essential message, captured in both both story and illustrations of this Easy-to-Read: Kids and dogs belong together, especially when it's a fun-loving canine like Sam. An appealing tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-8037-1530-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1996

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