A Smorgasbord of Dragons

Myra here.

15025143_1323928714319268_7775025028769073409_o

So I’ve been feeling very remiss. Our reading theme is all about dragons (and fantastical stuff, among other things), but haven’t really been posting much about those fiery beasts – and to think that I was born in the Year of the Dragon – that makes me doubly remiss! As we end our reading theme this week, allow me to share these four titles that celebrate these fiery creatures.. and some.

img_8695Have You Seen My Dragon?

Written and Illustrated by: Steve Light
Published by: Candlewick Press, 2014 ISBN: 0763666483 (ISBN13: 9780763666484)
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me. 

This is an interesting concept picturebook for young readers who love dragons and are learning how to count. In each page, the young reader needs to find a few objects such as two hotdogs (see below), all the while a connecting thread/storyline of a boy trying to find his dragon remains throughout the narrative.

img_8696

I also particularly enjoyed the play in colours, perfect for developing visual literacy among young kids. And of course, the reader can always find the dragon, even if the young boy can’t seem to find it as it sneaks past the subway or hides itself on top of a truck. One of my favourite images is the one found below:

fullsizerender-2

The hotdogs and the subway also seem like a giveaway as to the location of this picturebook. Can you hazard a guess?

img_8701

I also like how each full spread only contains a few text and the prompt of objects that need to be found (e.g. 15 balloons or the 16 subway cars) strategically placed on the upper right hand corner of the book. And of course, the reader needs to find the dragon too! Great concept book, especially for dragon lovers.

The Cuddle Dragonimg_8690

Written and Illustrated by: Axel Janssens
Published by: Clavis Publishing, 2014 ISBN: 160537184X (ISBN13: 9781605371849)
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

There is something about European titles that appeal to me, and this picturebook is one of them. Originally published in Belgium, this is the story of young Leo who is very happy to be hosting a sleepover birthday party as he turns six.

img_8691

However, things are not turning out as planned or as imagined by young Leo. For one thing, his friend Kenny, brought his cuddly dragon with him. Leo tried to make fun of him for bringing a cuddly toy (not very nice of him, I thought) – but Kenny shrugged it off by saying that the Cuddle Dragon is his best friend who goes with him everywhere!

img_8692

Leo found himself getting upset about this, and started sharing things that would make Kenny and his Cuddle Dragon scared such as the Bed Beast who lives under your bed, the Closet Monster, or the Ogre of the Woods:

img_8693

Yet, the Cuddle Dragon always seems to find a way to beat all these monsters to a pulp. When Leo himself started getting scared in the middle of the night by a tap.. tap.. tapping sound by his window, Kenny gave him a gift that gave him the courage that he needed. What that is, I shall leave for you to discover. I especially enjoyed the unique, 3d art used in this picturebook, as well as its message of friendship and extending kindness and compassion to others even when sometimes they don’t seem to deserve it.

fullsizerender-10Ballad

Written and Illustrated by: Blexbolex Translated by: Claudia Z. Bedrick
Published by: Enchanted Lion Books, 2013 ISBN: 159270137X (ISBN13: 9781592701377)
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

I have been gradually familiarizing myself with titles published by Enchanted Lion Books and I chanced upon this title, which apparently was included in the New York Times Best Illustrated Books of 2013.

fullsizerender-5

It is a pretty thick book consisting of 280 pages in all. It begins with a short summary of the chapter, followed by a visual narrative consisting of simple captions for the images:

fullsizerender-2-copy

I found it to be a very unique way of telling a story, as the reader is given the task of piecing together the story from snippets of images. I also found the art and the overall book design to be quite superb.

fullsizerender-6

What I really enjoyed most of all though is the experimental nature of how this fairy tale is conveyed (see image above) – look at the upturned page – talk about turning the story over on its head in the literal sense of the word. Then there is this too:

a fill-in-the-blanks chapter inviting the reader to interpret what they see. Curiouser and curiouser, says the Alice in me. At its very essence, the story is a fairy tale of sorts – complete with a princess, a sorcerer, a witch, a curse, an elf, and of course, a dragon!

After all, what is a fairy tale without dragons and demons. This is one book you should definitely experience for yourself.

The (In)Complete Book of Dragonsimg_8677

Written and Illustrated by: Cressida Cowell
Published by: Hodder Children’s Books, 2014 ISBN: 1444914006 (ISBN13: 9781444914009)
Review copy provided by Pansing Books. Book photos taken by me. 

Now this is one book you should definitely purchase for your dragon-lover book fiends. When I turned the pages of this book, I remember distinctly how I had been as a child, and how I would have devoured anything remotely like this book.

img_8678

It comes with a map of the barbaric archipelago, a little bit of context on what the entire story is about (for those unfamiliar with the blockbuster Hollywood version of the novel How To Train Your Dragon, that is), before moving into all things dragon!

img_8680

The book is divided neatly into nine sections: (1) dragon anatomy – as you can see in the image above, you can identify a dragon through its eyes. Neat, huh? Then there is a brief overview of dragons’s (2) nesting sites:

img_8681

Apparently, there are vampire spydragons and giant bee-eaters. Then the reader gets the rare treat of seeing quite a number of (3) dragon eggs!

img_8683

What I found really interesting about the eggs is that they have a defence system in place: be it through spikes, or eyes that look out from the egg shell alerting the baby to any kind of potential predator that would do it harm. Then, you have a section on (4) training your hunting or lap dragon. I especially like how each dragon is classified according to fear factor, attack level, speed, size, and rate of disobedience.

img_8685

Section (5) is all about dragon riding, learning how to ride a dragon, and sky dragons:

img_8686

Part (6) has to do with a description of the wilder dragon species and how to track dragons through their poo. Talk about gross but man oh man, is it hugely entertaining.

img_8687

If this does not convince you to get this book for your reluctant readers, I don’t know what will. Part (7) has to do with the mighty monsters such as sea dragons and leviathorns. While the last two sections focus more on (8) The Future of Dragons and (9) Knowing Your Dragons.

img_8684

The entire book has the feel of a scrapbook or a journal what with all the marginalia, but it isn’t too cluttered that it becomes way too confusing or distracting. I am also anticipating that this book would make you want to pick up all the books in the series, as you should. Because what is one’s reading life without dragons? And here is a movie trailer to get you even more intrigued. Enjoy!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: