cover image Goodnight, Dragons

Goodnight, Dragons

Judith L. Roth, illus. by Pascal Lemaitre. Disney-Hyperion, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4231-4190-7

Getting tired, cranky dragons to settle down for the night is not for the fainthearted—especially when they announce themselves with a “smell like burnt toast” that “seeps through the trees.” It takes courage and cunning, but more importantly, it takes tenderness. A small boy lassos each dragon with a soft blanket and beguiles them with a cauldron of hot chocolate (warmed by the now-intrigued dragon’s flame). “Maybe all a dragon needs is a cuddle,” the boy coos. “Maybe all a dragon needs is one sweet dream.” Roth (Julia’s Words) and Lemaitre (Bulldog’s Big Day) seem to have in mind a mock epic, but they’re at odds on how to execute. Roth, though admirably economic, plays it so straight that she often slips into deep purple prose (“With a voice strong as hawksong, I call them to me”). Lemaitre, meanwhile, is working on an entirely different book, a cuddly comedy with critters that look like a few steps beyond doodles and a round-headed hero who’s eager to prove his competence. Ages 3–6. Agent: Jennifer DiChiara Literary Agency. Illustrator’s agent: Pippin Properties. (Feb.)