Guess What I Found in Dragon Wood
Timothy Knapman, , illus. by Gwen Millward. . Bloomsbury, $16.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-59990-190-9
The “can we keep it?” shoe is on the other foot in this funny-poignant story narrated by a dragon who brings home a strange stray: a redheaded boy whom the dragon refers to as “the Benjamin.” The dragon and his friends find the tailless, scale-free Benjamin endlessly fascinating, and the Benjamin is a big hit when he teaches them how to play soccer (“You're not supposed to fly in the penalty area,” the dragon diligently explains to readers, “Or eat the ball. OR burn down the goalposts”). Ultimately, however, the dragon understands that he must do right by the homesick boy. The otherwise droll storytelling gets flabby in the attenuated wrapup, but the illustrator never makes a false step. Her watercolor washes and delicate pencil lines make terrific visual foils for the creatures' hulking, warty bodies, and endearing silliness bubbles off of every page. A generously sized die-cut on the paper-over-board cover will draw well-deserved attention to this title, the first for the British author and illustrator. Ages 4-8.
Reviewed on: 01/21/2008