The Little Dragon (Sheri Fink)

Hello, friends! Our book today is The Little Dragon, written by Sheri Fink and illustrated by Lynx Studios, a tale about embarrassment and acceptance.

There once was a little dragon who lived happily and peacefully in a beautiful meadow, one filled with flowers and his cozy cave and starlit skies. One of Dragon’s favorite things to do in his meadow was to dance, and he would do so joyfully whenever he had the opportunity… until one day, he realizes that someone is watching. He sees movement and hears giggling in the shadows of the tree line, and is immediately overcome with an emotion he’s never felt before. He feels a hot rumble rolls up from his belly through his face and chest, and he feels angry and hurt. This results in a tantrum that causes him to nearly destroy one of his beloved meadow’s trees! Determined to never let this happen again, he decides to take action: he will find out who the giggler was, and make sure they never return to his peaceful place. Learning from the meadow’s birds that it was a dragon, he decides that dragons are not welcome in his meadow (not realizing that he, himself, is a dragon). But when the giggling dragon reappears, how will he handle his temper?

Ambitious yet uneven. There are some truly great moments, like the fantastic kid-language description of embarrassment that feels utterly universal, and the message that we should not push others away or exclude them based on awkward first impressions. The giggler turns out to be another dragon, and after a clever exchange in which she explains that Little Dragon is a dragon too, he sees that she is friendly, and he invites her to dance along. It’s a sweet ending, but it left me wanting a little more, especially after the fantastic set-up about self-consciousness. I wish that Dragon’s emotions and his overcoming them had gotten a more definitive resolution. However, this is still a very nice story, and it’s accompanied by gentle, colorful illustrations that younger readers will love. The length is fine, and JJ enjoyed it. Baby Bookworm approved!

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

The Grossest Picture Book Ever (Derek Taylor Kent )

Hello, friends! Our book today is The Grossest Picture Book Ever, written by Derek Taylor Kent and illustrated by Lynx Studios, a book that definitely – unfortunately – lives up to its title.

In the town of Gross live a collection of the grossest people you’ve ever met. I’m not really going to describe the plot more, because there isn’t one. After a short introduction by two young residents of Gross, the rest of the book is an attempt to disgust and nauseate the reader as thoroughly as possible, using triggers and set pieces such as a car made of feces (“As he drives around town; all the streets turn to brown”), a house made of dripping green mucous, and a particularly memorable scene in which a chef serves up a massive pile of blood-colored vomit – complete with carefully detailed illustration – which is happily consumed by a group that includes young children.

It’s not often we give a book a truly bad review; most children’s picture books have some manner of redeeming quality. However, it’s also not often that we are unable to finish a book because a) I had no desire to expose JJ to the rest of the contents therein and b) I was about to be physically sick. Indeed, the backmatter congratulates those with stomachs strong enough to complete the book, which certainly begs a question: should a children’s book really be so disgusting that it discourages readers from completing it? The author’s intent seems to be comedy – indeed, he offers a social media challenge in the backmatter to record oneself reading the entire book without “laughing”. Well, mission success. This book is not funny, nor does it have value beyond a mindless and tasteless attempt at gross-out humor. It lacks style, substance, and any educational qualities; it simply embodies the type of lowbrow and lazy comedy that does nothing to challenge or encourage young readers’ development. It’s just gross for the sake of being gross, and we do NOT recommend it.

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