Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Read-alouds: Kenny and the Dragon

I know I have a tendency to post about older books here at School of Good Books, so I thought I would recommend a newer book. Okay, so it's really a modern take on an older book, so I don't know if it totally counts, but the kids loved this read-aloud so much that when I finished the last page, they yelled, "Read it again!" and then they asked, "Do we own this or is it from the library?"

Kenny & the Dragon by Tony DiTerlizzi is a retelling of short story, The Reluctant Dragon by Kenneth Grahame. It tells the story of a young rabbit who loves books. "Fairy tales and natural history were his two favorite topics, and as far as Kenny was concerned, both held the same merit in the real world." When a dragon moves on to Kenny's farm, he soon discovers that the dragon named Grahame is quite different from the description he has read in books. He is a peaceable dragon who loves reciting poetry, reading books, and eating rich desserts. When the town decides they must exterminate the dragon and they call on Kenny's friend George (who turns out to be a sainted dragon slayer) to do it, Kenny has to find a way to save Grahame.

The book is a fun read with lots of nods to Kenneth Grahame and the original story, but what really sets it apart are the magnificent illustrations. The pencil drawings throughout add so much life to the story. This book is a short, heavily illustrated chapter book, so it's great for kids moving from the easy reader section to chapter books or a wonderful read-aloud for young readers who aren't ready for scarier dragon books.

I have been reading DiTerlizzi's science fiction series The Search for WondLa, which also has gorgeous illustrations. The kids are always stealing my books to look at the vintage Star-Wars-esque illustrations, so I was excited to find a book illustrated by DiTerlizzi that was on their level.

If you'd like to hear the original story The Reluctant Dragon, you can listen to it for free at Books Should Be Free.

Also a fun fact, I had been admiring the new owl logo at Jones Library in Amherst, MA, and it turns out it was drawn by DiTerlizzi. Here's the fun story about how the logo came to be. Maybe I do need one of their t-shirts. Hmmm.

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