cover image Komodo!


Peter Sis. Greenwillow Books, $17.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-688-11583-8

A young aficionado of dragons gets the chance of a lifetime when his parents take him to the Indonesian island of Komodo, home to the Komodo dragon--the world's largest lizard, and the sole extant carnivorous dinosaur. The place proves a tourist trap, complete with a staged Dragon Show, but the unnamed narrator ventures into the jungle and has a fleeting but profoundly satisfying encounter with one of the creatures. Although Sis's story is, in the main, rather slight, dragon enthusiasts will be charmed by its mixture of fact (lots of information about the Komodo dragon is included) and fancy (the boy's improbable meeting). The book's true richness, though, lies in its illustrations--watercolors given texture by fine pen-and-ink hatching--which are almost as lush as the Indonesian landscape itself. They contain an abundance of detail and even sly jokes (``It is always easy to find me in school pictures because of my dragon T-shirt,'' the narrator proclaims, as he stands well camouflaged in a crowd scene worthy of Waldo). Moments of deliberate visual ambiguity add to the fun: is that jungle foliage we see, or a dragon's emerging form? Ages 4-up. (May)