The Secret in the Matchbox

Val Willis, Author, John Shelley, Photographer Farrar Straus Giroux $15 (32p) ISBN 978-0-374-36603-2
Bobby has a secret in his matchbox but no one at school is interested in knowing what it is. When Miss Potts confiscates the box, Bobby predicts troubleand he's right. A tiny dragon emerges from the matchbox and grows larger and more destructive, until it commands the attention of even the willfully oblivious Miss Potts (""Don't be silly,'' she tells one would-be informant, ``I know there's a dragon on your page''). She finally implores Bobby to ``Do something,'' so he touches the dragon, causing it to shrink, and puts it back in his matchbox, smiling a secret smile. This is an odd, rather unsettling story; there is little sense of triumph at the dragon's unleashing and Bobby's concomitant power; the terror of the children and teacher seems based more in mean-spirited humor than in comic exaggeration. Shelley's illustrations are distinctive, with borders that depict both classroom and other-worldly antics in surrealistic scenes; they constitute a promising artistic debut. Ages 3-up. (April)
Reviewed on: 04/01/1988
Release date: 04/01/1988
Paperback - 978-0-374-46593-3
Prebound-Glued - 978-0-606-04534-6
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