DRAGON IS COMING!

Farm mouse does a Chicken Little. Dog’s lying in the field, idly watching the fluffy clouds. A dark cloud rolls in and Dog comments that it looks like a dragon; when Mouse hears this, he’s off like a rocket, warning the other farm animals of the hideous fire-breather that’s about to attack them. The Goose Brothers, the Sheep Twins, Mrs. Cow and Mrs. Pig all abandon their chores to race to the safety of the barn. With each meeting, Gorbachev’s pen-and-ink–and–watercolor illustrations show the ominous dragon looming in the sky above the animals as they flee, growing in detail from dragon-shaped cloud to terrifying monster. They wait in the barn in fearful silence, until the door squeaks open and ... Dog enters, carrying an umbrella. He explains about the storm, which news passes gently from the animals to Mouse. Despite the abrupt ending, the author’s message registers via the expressive faces of his animals (who wear clothes) and a minimal, accessible text. Heather Tekavec’s Storm Is Coming!, illustrated by Margaret Spengler (2002), does much the same thing, with a bit more flair. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: May 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-15-205196-9

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2009

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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 Books

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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Simple, nicely drawn, and a friendly toast to the imagination.

THE RED BOOK

A charming wordless tale about a magical red book and two unnamed children.

One child (quietly androgynous though called a girl by the flap copy) finds a red book lying in the city snow. She brings it to school and opens it to find a map of a warm island somewhere far away. Through a series of frames, the picture zooms in to show her a child on that island, also finding a red book (buried in the sand) and viewing the first child’s snowy city. Now his pictures zoom in and he finds her looking at him in the book and then out through the classroom window. They can see each other! After school, a purchase of many balloons carries the city child off to the island to meet her new friend who sees that she’s left the city and then, there she is—as seen in her book lying on the city sidewalk where she’s dropped it. As it closes, a new city child, who will presumably have an adventure too, picks it up.

Simple, nicely drawn, and a friendly toast to the imagination. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2004

ISBN: 978-0-618-42858-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2004

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