cover image Dragonboy (Dragonboy #1)

Dragonboy (Dragonboy #1)

Fabio Napoleoni. Little, Brown, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-316-46216-7

In this picture book series starter, Dragonboy is a round-headed, white-skinned child who loves to dress up in an impressively detailed dragon suit. Today, he and all his plush toys—a yellow cat, a brown sloth, a gray yeti, and a small green dragon—are heading out on a craft called Adventure. “There’s always something waiting for you if your eyes and your mind and your heart are open,” says artist Napoleoni’s aphoristically inclined narrator. After sailing across a sea, the group frolics on a gently rolling hillside that may remind readers of Teletubbies territory. Encountering a sad unicorn named Karley, they assure her that her supposed deficits (“I’m not magical... And I can’t fly”) are what make her special. “We are already who we are supposed to be,” Dragonboy tells her. “Especially when we are together.” While the self-esteem message covers familiar ground, the debut author-illustrator’s acrylic-on-wood-panel illustrations have a sweet-natured theatricality (the sea’s waves are pointy and layered, like a Victorian stage set) and conjure up a green and sunny world, where even a dark forest of twisty trees looks inviting and there’s all the time in the world to count the daisies. Ages 4–8. Agent: Albert Lee, United Talent Agency. (Sept.)