Saturday, 22 June 2013

A dragon book so good it deserves a post of its own.

Please note this review contains spoilers. The whole point or shall I say "hole " point of buying this book is the ending. My meaning will be come clear at the end of this review.

My youngest son loves dragons, so when amazon recommended this for me I couldn't resist. It begins with a very cute little green dragon, playing sword fight, having a snack, brushing his teeth and taking a bath. He then looks up at his mother with a book in his hands and an enchanting look that just must be saying "Please read me this". His mother happily cuddles up to read the story of a fierce red dragon, who never goes to bed, terrorises trolls and eats princesses for dinner.

When the story is finished, with the sweetest of expressions the little dragon softly asks again to read again. Looking a bit tired, his mother obliges, but she changes the story a bit, making it a bit more gentle, and perhaps more conducive of sleep. The little dragon is still very happy, dancing about, but when his mother goes to leave he grabs her tail shouting "Again!". This goes on for several more pages, with the mother dragon looking more and more exhausted and the little dragon wider and wider awake. The mother tries to make the stories more suitable for calming down and going to sleep, but little dragon doesn't like this. He gets angrier and angrier until he turns a bright angry red himself, finally releasing a fireball which puts a hole right through his book, and your book as well. It's a good thing it is nearly the end of the story as the last page and the back cover now a big blackened hole in the middle.

This book is two stories in a way. We do get to hear the complete story of the angry red dragon each time as the mother reads it to the little dragon, while at the same time, there is another story of the little dragon and his mother. The second story is told primarily in pictures and the illustrations tell it perfectly. Other than the first line "It was nearly bedtime." the only word is "again". even a child who can not really read can quickly learn these lines and takes turns voicing little dragon's lines while the parent reads the story like the mother dragon would. As the story progresses Mother looks more and more worn out ( I'm sure we all know the feeling) while little dragon's face changes from angelic to petulant to nearly demonic with rage.

My son still giggles with delight every time we read this. He especially loves when the poor Mother dragon falls asleep and the little dragon jumps up and down on her screaming "again" which he often acts out by jumping on my bed. He also loves the hole in the back of the book and enjoys peeking through it or poking his fingers through. he likes pointing out how the little dragon is getting very angry as his facial expressions change, and little spots of red appear.

As a parent I can certainly relate to poor Mrs Dragon as well. At least my boys are nice enough to tiptoe off to bed, or the youngest may just go to sleep beside me when I have fallen asleep halfway through a story. the look of exasperation on the mother dragon is sure to bring a smile to most parents.

I have hundreds if not thousands of books. I have no intention of counting, but as a single shelf can easily hold 100 picture books, and I have book case after book case filled with books I don't think my estimate is too high. In fact a rumour was flying about that the school board counted the books in your house on home visits. My husband simply said "They may bring plenty of helpers then because they are not staying overnight". I doubt you could count them in one day. Needless to say they have never bothered. With so many books, it takes a lot for book to really stand out as exceptional, but this is one of the very best picture books I own. If you have a child between 9 - months and 7 years - all I can say is "buy it". Even my eight year old was laughing with this one, as was I. This is another book that will never find it's way into the charity shop. When my sons outgrow it, I am keeping it for myself until such time as they have children of their own.

This sells for £7.58 for hardback copy new and delivered from Amazon, or £5.28 from Amazon Marketplace. You can get a paperback for less, but in this case I would recommend paying the extra for a hardback copy as the hole effect is much better. I also feel that this is one of those books that may be read until it is falling apart in a paperback format. I did get my copy for much less as I bought used as new. I love this book so much though that if it were out print and something happened to my copy I could easily see paying £20 or more. As far as I am concerned it is priceless.

* This review has also appeared on dooyoo

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