cover image East Dragon, West Dragon

East Dragon, West Dragon

Robyn Eversole, illus. by Scott Campbell. S&S/Atheneum, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-689-85828-4

Eversole (Red Berry Wool) offers a discursive story that attempts to contrast the cultures of east and west by way of two dragons who “lived on opposite sides of the world” and who mistrust each other more than a little. After delineating some of the differences between them—“East Dragon lived in a palace. West Dragon lived in a cave. East Dragon had golden scales. West Dragon was mossy green”—the story dissolves into a war when the pesky, dragon-hunting western king and his knights attack the eastern dragons and are imprisoned by the emperor. The West Dragon (who can fly) comes to his former adversaries’ rescue and, after being hit by an arrow, is in turn saved by the East Dragon (who can swim), leading to reconciliation among humans and dragons alike. Campbell’s (Zombie in Love) cartoony watercolors, which are packed with anachronistic details (in the West Dragon’s cave, the marauding knights play video games and bounce on his bed), add a much-needed dose of humor, but don’t make the story’s muddied message any clearer. Ages 4–7. (Jan.)