cover image Evermore Dragon

Evermore Dragon

Barbara Joosse, illus. by Randy Cecil. Candlewick, $15.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7636-6882-2

The satin-gowned princess and bobble-eyed dragon from Lovabye Dragon (2012) are back with a warmhearted damsel-in-distress story. Joosse's nursery-rhyme verse enchants from the opening line: "At the wake of derry-day/ the friends decided what to play." They choose hide-and-seek; Dragon doesn't realize that Girl can see him behind his tiny rock, and she makes a show of being befuddled. Now it's Girl's turn. She runs off into the forest where she hides in a hollow tree, dozes, and wakes up in the dark: "Came the cricking and the cracking,/ came the flipping and the flapping/ came the moaning and the groaning%E2%80%94/ are there monsters in the night?" The sound of her frightened heartbeat brings Dragon flying to her, his earlier silliness replaced by heroism. "Evermore, evermore, I am here," he sings, holding her close. The unexpected contours of Cecil's figures, like Girl's pancake-flat head and Dragon's ping pong ball eyes, add smiles, but there's also unexpected depth in the tiny, scratchy strokes and dusky shades of his paintings. It's a noteworthy alternative to more commercially flavored princess stories. Ages 3%E2%80%937. (Aug.)