cover image How to Draw a Dragon

How to Draw a Dragon

Douglas Florian. S&S/Beach Lane, $17.99 (42p) ISBN 978-1-4424-7399-7

“Drawing dragons isn’t hard./ Drag a dragon to your yard,” begins Florian, proceeding to offer tongue-in-cheek instructions in verse. Throughout, crayon scrawling and loose washes contribute to the feeling that children themselves have supplied the artwork. The dragons submit obligingly to their work as models, with some help. “Soothe your dragon with a song/ as you draw his teeth so long,” Florian advises, as a girl with black hair and a floral print outfit sits inside her dragon’s mouth, singing, drawing, and keeping an eye out for any unexpected movement. The spreads conjure landscapes that are half fantasy and half real, inhabited by children of all colors. Florian (I Love My Hat) offers pointers on drawing dragons’ spines and spikes, and tames anxieties about their flaming breath (“Dragon fire has reds and yellows,/ and it’s good to toast marshmallows”). A final gatefold imagines a school art exhibition made up of all the children’s sketches, and the endpapers give even more advice. Behind the humor, Florian recognizes that children take drawing seriously and want to learn how to do it better. Ages 4–8. Agent: Rubin Pfeffer, Rubin Pfeffer Content. (Apr.)