Dragon Scales and Willow Leaves

Terryl L. Givens, Author, Andrew Portwood, Illustrator Putnam Publishing Group $12.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-399-22619-9
Givens and Portwood both make their children's book debut with this slight though good-natured tale of twins who walk through the woods together but see things a bit differently. Toting a sword and a trashcan-top shield, Jonathan is ready for high adventure--and he finds it. While Rachel delights in the sight of saffron-toned leaves falling from a large weeping willow, brave Jonathan stands up to a golden dragon whose scales flutter to the ground. The boy warrior fights a tree filled with howling, shrieking trolls, who hurl rocks and spears, and an army of mighty Viking warriors armed in green; at the same time, nature-loving Rachel witnesses not trolls, but quarreling blue jays and frisky squirrels who cause pine needles and acorns to drop from a tree, and the Vikings as towering rows of ripe corn in a field. Conveying the timeless quality of Givens's gently told story, Portwood's winsome, finely detailed watercolors make graceful and inventive transitions from the fanciful to the real, only occasionally hitting a false note: pine needles aren't likely to fall from a deciduous tree, and even a vivid imagination may have trouble turning three bullfrogs splashing in a pond into a pirate ship firing cannonballs. Still, this attractively priced, smallish-format volume will keep youngsters busy flipping pages in both directions to detect the magical transformations from the real to the imagined. Ages 4-8. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/29/1997
Release date: 10/01/1997
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