Monday, January 24, 2011

Review: There's a Dragon in the Library by Dianne De Las Casas

 There's a Dragon in the Library

There's a Dragon in the Library, Pelican Publishing, coming out Jan. 29
Author: Dianne De Las Casas

I requested and was sent an electronic pre-release copy of There's a Dragon in the Library.  I curled up in my comfy chair with my cat, Percy, and read him the book aloud. Since my youngest child is fifteen, and since I didn't have a print copy to take in to try out on my pre-school Sunday School class, Percy had to sit in.

Max is visiting the library when he see a very small dragon hatch out of an egg. He tells his mom, but she laughs and says he has a great imagination.  The next week, he finds the dragon again, and it is bigger and hungrier.  In fact, it is nibbling on the books. Max runs and tells his dad, who doesn't believe him either.  Each week, Max finds a bigger, hungrier dragon who is eating more and more books.  Nobody believes him, until the day they can't miss the dragon any more.

In general, I liked this book very much.  Children, especially those 4 to 5 years old, will relate to the way the grownups don't always listen to them. Grownups will relate to the implicit messages woven into the story about caring for your books, and the list of ways for children to take care of their books which is added at the end.  Everybody will enjoy the illustrations which bring the story to life.

I do have two small problems with this book, which prevent me from being completely enthusiastic.  One is that the illustrations so completely fill the pages that there are a few spots where I missed the words.  That can lead to confusion until you catch on.  The second is that while I like the rhyming parts in a picture book, and like the way they sound when read aloud, it sounds a little awkward when Max keeps saying the same thing in language that feels a little unreal for his age.  This may not be a problem since adults are likely to be reading, but it doesn't feel quite right to me.

Overall, I recommend this to parents, teachers and librarians for use with 4-6 year olds.  The message is good, the story is fun, and book works well for either reading aloud or for a child paging through and looking at the illustrations.

Four stars out of five.

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  1. This book reminds me of one of my favorites, There's No Such Thing as a Dragon by Jack Kent. A boy discovers a dragon in his room and, of course, his mom says there's no such thing as a dragon. So the dragon gets bigger and bigger during the day until the boy finally pets it at the end of the day. Best line in the book is when the dragon has moved the house because he is so big the house becomes his shell. The dad comes home and the author writes dryly something like, "The first thing he notices is the house is gone."

  2. I don't know that one, but it is funny you mention it. One of my very favorite books is The Once-Upon-a-Time Dragon, also by Jack Kent, although came out in 1982 and seems hard to find these days. Great book with a wonderful, wry sense of humor.