cover image If I Had a Dragon

If I Had a Dragon

Amanda Ellery. Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, $15.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-1-4169-0924-8

Morton wishes his pesky little brother would ""turn into something fun""-such as, say, a friendly, humongous and very green dragon. But like a lot of fantasies, this one falls apart in the details. The dragon blocks all his basketball shots, singes Morton's hair when its whistles, and (shades of Danny and the Dinosaur) doesn't offer much of a hide-and-seek challenge. Maybe hanging out in the sandbox with his brother isn't so bad after all. The Ellerys come from the world of filmmaking and animation (Tom Ellery's title designs won an Emmy for the 2002 version of Harold and the Purple Crayon); overall their debut effort has the feel of a well-oiled, fairly disposable cartoon. But there is something interesting going on in the watercolor, ink and charcoal pictures. Although the two main characters may be exuberant, if somewhat conventional cartoon figures, the settings and backgrounds are accented with washes of moody browns and grays-literal foreshadowings that seem to be telling Morton to be careful what he wishes for. Ages 3-7.