Dragons Are the Worst! (Alex Willan)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Dragons Are the Worst! by Alex Willan, the hilarious follow-up to the author/illustrator’s previous tale, Unicorns Are the Worst!

The diminutive goblin narrator from Unicorns is back, this time with a new complaint: dragons. Namely, that everyone thinks they are SO scary and intimidating! Sure, they are huge and they can breathe fire and they sometimes trap royalty at the top of tall towers, but Goblin just doesn’t see the big deal. He could be very scary and intimidating if he WANTED to! He knows lots of scary spells, and has a positively terrifying pigeon costume! And when the goblin encounters a band of knights on a dragon-hunt, he sets out to prove just how scary he can be – with surprising results!

Uproarious fun. There are only a few children’s books that can tickle both JJ’s and my funny bones, but this one absolutely had us in stitches. The clever narration and dialogue, along with the fantastically funny illustrations, made for a reading experience that introduced new laughs with every flip of the page. A sequence in which the goblin is shown fleeing from increasingly docile-looking dragons (including a stuffed animal) had us screaming. The only disappointment was the final resolution, which boiled down to an extended poop joke; JJ was highly amused, I was less so, but poop humor can be pretty subjective. However, for the most part, this was such a delightfully entertaining read that we would encourage readers of any age to give it a try – perfect length for a storytime, it was a hoot to read aloud, and JJ and I had a blast. Overall, Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

You’ve Got Dragons (Kathryn Cave & Nick Maland)

Hello, friends! Our book today is You’ve Got Dragons by Kathryn Cave and Nick Maland, an allegorical look at how we deal with our worries.

As a young boy plays in a city park, the narration points out that you never really expect dragons to turn up – and that’s exactly when they often do. You wonder if you’re dreaming, or you can pretend they’re not there, but the fact remains to the same: you’ve got dragons. Toothy, scary, cumbersome, distracting. You can run from them or fret about them; they can cause you to make silly mistakes or withdraw from others. And getting rid of them, well that seems almost impossible. But the thing is, you can do it. By facing your dragons head on, by using humor and awareness to make peace with them, suddenly they will shrink and become tame… and perhaps even fade into nothing when you least expect it.

An interesting and heartfelt attempt at helping young people through their anxieties and fears. The allegory of the dragons is a strong one, and many of ways in which the text describes how the dragons affect the unnamed protagonist’s life and thoughts are strong metaphors: the temptation to deny or ignore their existence, how they can become intrusive thoughts that plague us at all hours, and how having them is not because a child is bad or at fault (the latter being an extremely important distinction to make for young readers). And the tips on how to deal with these anxieties are solid: acknowledge the problem, find ways to laugh, dedicate time to sorting it out. The illustrations feature imposing but not frightening dragons, appropriate for the tone of the story. The spreads are finely detailed and incredibly well-laid out, yet this is occasionally lost in the muted color scheme. Lastly, I wish there had been more emphasis that dealing with problems, anxieties, and intrusive thoughts is never something children must do alone (hugs and talking are only briefly mentioned). This is a longer one and best for older bookworms; JJ enjoyed the art but was getting antsy near the end. Still, this is a great jumping off point to talk with kids about their own dragons, and we liked it. Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

Roar & Sparkles Go To School (Sarah Beth Durst)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Roar & Sparkles Go To School, written by Sarah Beth Durst and illustrated by Ben Whitehouse, a back-to-school story with a scaly twist.

Roar the dragon dreads the end of summer: it means no more playing at the beach with his beloved big sister Sparkles, for one. But more pressingly, he has to go to his first day of school! Roar is scared of what will be expected of him – will he have to breath fire all by himself? Or fly over an erupting volcano? Sparkle assures him that the first day will be easy, and that he will like school. Roar still frets right up to the moment Sparkles walks him to class – but inside, he sees toys, a friendly teacher, and new friends. After a day of fun, Sparkle picks Roar up from class, and the younger dragon presents her with a drawing of his favorite thing in the world: his big sister.

Very sweet. Telling the well-worn story of the apprehension before the first day of school, the dragon-themed setting and characters inject some fun and color. These details are clever, such as burnt sandwiches for lunch and a Cindragonella storybook (in which the heroine declines waiting to be rescued in favor of becoming a brave knight herself – AWESOME). The vivid, colorful illustrations can feel a little busy at times, but also work in some truly delightful visual gags. The length is great, and JJ loved it, so this one is definitely Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

How To Draw A Dragon (Douglas Florian)

Summer Reading Day 73: Today we read How To Draw A Dragon by Douglas Florian, a fun book that acts as a tongue-in-cheek instructional manual on, well, how to draw a dragon. Told in rhyme, it gives aspiring dragon-portraiture artists tips on how to get their dragon drawings just right, first by finding a dragon and bringing it home with them, getting together LOTS of art supplies (as dragons are quite large), then providing advice on how to capture each claw, scale and horn perfectly.

This is another really cute book for dragon-lovers. It’s mostly just for fun, but does encourage imagination, which is always great. The art is done in a childlike style, which is fun, though it was a little hard for a very young bookworm like JJ to focus on some pages that were especially scribbly. But the length is great, and the rhyming story is fun to read. Slightly older baby bookworms would love this one, especially dragon lovers! Baby Bookworm approved!

How To Be Friends With A Dragon (Valeri Gorbachev)

Summer Reading Day 67: Today’s book was How To Be Friends With A Dragon by Valeri Gorbachev, a fantastic little tale about a boy who loves dragons so much that he hopes to someday befriend one. Upon telling his sister this, she extols the various rules to remember for those who want to become a dragon’s friend.

This is a really sweet and light story. There’s no real morals or grand lessons, it’s just meant to be a fun story about dragons and the little kids who love them. Though it was just a little long for baby bookworms (JJ was definitely getting antsy by the end), it would be a perfect length for slightly older kids, especially those who love dragons. The illustrations are very cute, and the story is relaxed and fun. Thumbs up from us!