That Pesky Dragon

Julie Sykes, Author, Melanie Williamson, Illustrator , illus. by Melanie Williamson. Tiger Tales $15.95 (0p) ISBN 978-1-58925-069-7

There's a dragon on the farm, and the heat from its breath is wreaking havoc: the eggs turn hard-boiled while they're still in the henhouse, the cows produce yogurt instead of milk, and the wheat gets toasted in the fields. Izzie is convinced that the roaring dragon sounds “hurt, not fierce,” so she defies her protective parents (“Go inside and with luck it will fly away soon,” says Mom, an admonishment that will immediately resonate with youngsters), and she soon discovers a scared, puppy-like dragon stuck in the farm's well. Sykes's (Dora's Eggs ) text tends toward the deadpan, leaving plenty of room for Williamson (Hound Dog ) to shine. The geometrically stylized illustrations bubble with a gleeful faux-naïf sophistication: the characters are sweetly silly (especially the parallelogram cows and a sheep who loves to pose), and the flattened perspectives make everyone look as if they're on comically tenuous ground. Curving type nods at the topsy-turvy plot, also calling attention to the goofy details packed into the art (don't miss the juggling cat). Ages 3-7. (Sept.)