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Uplifting Picture Books That Don't Preach
There's NO Such Thing as a Dragon
There's NO Such Thing as a Dragon
by Jack Kent
Golden Books (reprint),(2005)
Billy Bixbee was rather surprised when he woke up one morning and found a dragon in his room. It was a small dragon, about the size of a kitten.
The dragon wagged its tail happily when Billy patted its head.
Billy went downstairs to tell his mother. "There's no such thing as a dragon!" said Billy's mother. And she said it like she meant it.
--There's No Such Thing as a Dragon, by Jack Kent, p. 1-4.
When Billy discovers a dragon in his bedroom, and tells his mother, his mother insists there's no such thing as a dragon—even when the dragon appears on the kitchen table, and eats all of Jack's breakfast. As the dragon is ignored, it grows bigger and bigger, creating havoc, until finally Billy dares to acknowledge it and pat it on the head—and the dragon shrinks back down to a cute kitten size.
This funny, magical story will make readers laugh as Billy's mother so consistently ignores the dragon as it does things almost impossible to ignore—sits on the table, eats all Billy's pancakes but one, grows so big that Billy's mother has to go through windows to get to other parts of the house, and even runs after a bakery truck with the house on its back.
The story is well written, providing a fast moving plot, reaction to action, and funny, compelling details. The text moves along quickly, making readers wonder what will happen next. Readers will love that Billy is the one to save the day by acknowledging the dragon.
The watercolor and ink cartoonish paintings build on and increase the humor of the text, with the tiny dragon poking its head through Billy's pajama bottoms, holding Billy away from his pancakes, Billy's mother lifting the tail of the much larger dragon as she mops and pretends to ignore its existence. The orange-red dragon is the brightest figure in the book, making it the focal point of each spread. In many of the illustrations, there are funny, added details to the story to absorb—the parents staring nonplussed at the shrinking dragon, the bread truck being towed away, a passing neighbor staring.
Nicely observed details also add to the enjoyment of this fantasy, and the feeling that it might just be possible, with Billy's room having some objects that a little boy's room would have, the details on clothing, interior decoration, laundry out to hang—and yet there are never too many details, and in many illustrations there is white space around the main action, focusing our attention.
Many readers will identify with telling an adult about something and not being believed or understood, as Billy was—and enjoy Billy being right.
A fantastic story that reminds us that anything—an emotion or problem—is more manageable if we acknowledge it, rather than ignore it and allow it to grow bigger. This message is completely metaphorical, and since it's told through a fun story, it can allow the message to sink in deeper. Highly recommended.
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