cover image Waking Dragons

Waking Dragons

Jane Yolen, illus. by Derek Anderson. Simon & Schuster, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4169-9032-1

Dragons are just not morning people. They “bumble” and “tumble” out of bed, and the doughty little knight who is their master risks life and limb just getting them to “Put their jammies in the hamper.” But with a little patience and a delicious breakfast of waffles (served via catapult), the dragons are ready to serve as a form of airborne transportation to school that’s much more awesome than any old yellow bus. Yolen’s (the How Do Dinosaurs? books) informal, pared-down rhymes have some minor bumps (“breakfast waffles,/ topped with syrup,/ which makes dragons /really cheer up”), but they serve their purpose: setting up Anderson’s marvelous acrylic paintings. With cinematic framing, sculptural shapes, a strong sense of physical comedy, and a fittingly medieval palette of saturated jewel tones, Anderson (the Little Quack series) portrays his horned dragons as hulking slugabeds who morph into surprisingly nimble winged beasts. The young knight scampers around their massive bodies like a practiced mountain climber, willing to risk getting stomped for the reward of having the ultimate lift to Knight School. Ages 4–8. (Oct.)