cover image The Dragons Are Singing Tonight

The Dragons Are Singing Tonight

Jack Prelutsky. Greenwillow Books, $17.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-688-09645-8

Prelutsky ( Tyrannosaurus Was a Beast ) and Sis ( An Ocean World ; Komodo! ) outdo themselves with this fanciful series of poems about dragons. Prelutsky wrings a range of surprising verse from a seemingly limited theme. Stock images get a face-lift: in ``A Dragon's Lament,'' for example, the narrator declares, ``I'm tired of being a dragon, / Ferocious and brimming with flame, / The cause of unspeakable terror / When anyone mentions my name.'' An unerring sense for rhythm lends punch to the light verse, while more atmospheric selections, like the title poem, conjure up a fantasy world, where dragons come out of their lairs and ``sing of their exploits of old / Of maidens and knights, and of fiery fights / And guarding vast caches of gold.'' Sis adds a new depth to Prelutsky's poetry. The artist's trademark antique gold borders enclose dramatically colored full-spread oil and gouache paintings. Old-fashioned imagery collides happily with whimsy: a Tenniel-style girl ``walks'' her leashed dragons, which soar in the air like kites; an ailing scaly dragon, reclining in its fairy-tale-like stone house, sips from tanks of gasoline; a goggle-wearing pilot in an open-air cockpit steers a mechanical dragon made from charmingly low-tech components (an umbrella serves as propellor). An enchanted pairing. Ages 4-up. (Sept.)