Friday, May 28, 2010

Children's Book Review: Kenny & the Dragon by Tony DiTerlizzi

Title:  Kenny & the Dragon
Author:  Tony DiTerlizzi
Publisher:  Simon & Schuster's Children's Publishing
Genre: children's/MG
Hardcover: 160 pages
ISBN: 1416939776   
What do you do when your new best buddy has been designated a scourge by the community and marked for imminent extermination? Just ask Kenny Rabbit. When the simple folks in the sleepy little village of Roundbrook catch wind that there's a dragon running loose in the countryside, they get the wrong idea and the stage is set for a fight to the death. So it's up to Kenny to give his neighbors front-row seats to one of the best-known battles in history -- the legendary showdown between St. George and the dragon -- without losing a friend in the fray.
  •                                                                     Overall rating: 10/10
To buy this book:  IndieBound Powell's | The Book Depository | Amazon
Add this book to your:  Goodreads | Shelfari | LibraryThing | Visual Bookshelf

Kenny & the Dragon is such a fun book!  Our daughter loved this sweet story, which was strongly inspired by Kenneth Grahame's classic The Reluctant Dragon.  Unlike the human cast of that classic story, Kenny & the Dragon is brought to life by a wonderful cast of woodland animals, much like Kenneth Grahame's other well-known book The Wind in the Willows.  Tony DiTerlizzi's illustrations have long been favorites in our household, and Kenny & the Dragon features some of his most charming work. 

What I Liked: 
-      The illustrations in this book are filled with personality and atmosphere.  From Kenny's little floppy ears and crooked smiles to Grahame's warm grin, children and adults will find these illustrations memorable. 
-      This is a story about friendship and learning to set aside prejudices & look past appearances.  Kenny and Grahame form an unlikely friendship & Kenny must convince the rest of the town of Grahame's peaceful nature before the townsfolk gather together to rid the village of this 'dangerous' beast. 
-      Kenny is such a sweet character!  He is a book-loving rabbit who loves to read about science and fairy tales and believes in both equally. 
-      Kenny's parents, who are hard-working farm folk, don't share his bookish qualities, but they are very loving and supportive of his interests.  One of my favorite aspects of this story is that even when they can't fully relate to Kenny's interest in book-learning, his parents always listen to him.  They trust and respect him and are happy to hear his ideas.  By the end of the story, Kenny also sees the value in the type of wisdom and practical knowledge that his parents possess, and they work together to save his friend the dragon. 
-      Grahame is a peaceful and intelligent dragon who would rather spend his time reading or composing poetry than harassing the local townsfolk or putting anyone in harm's way. 
- The tone of this book is light and humorous.  So young readers won't be too frightened even as the tension builds once the king asks Sir George, Kenny's friend who is a retired knight turned bookshop owner, to slay the dragon. 
-      The main characters in this story make a conscious effort to listen to each other and to adjust their preconceived notions about one another.  Ultimately the conflict in this book is is resolved with cooperation and cleverness, and it is impossible not to like that. 
-      My six-year-old daughter and I read this book together, meaning that I read the odd-numbered chapters aloud & she read the even-numbered chapters aloud.  Sometimes that can be a slow process if her interest in a book wanes halfway through one of her chapters, but this book not only captured her interest, it had her volunteering to read my chapters aloud too! What a fun, fast read! 

What I Wished:
-      I would love to see Tony DiTerlizzi versions of more classic folktales or fairy tales.  This book has become one of our daughter's new favorites! 

If you and your children enjoy stories about dragons, friendship, or smart little rabbits, this book is for you.  Fans of The Reluctant Dragon will like this book, and fans of Tony DiTerlizzi's illustrations in The Spiderwick Chronicles or E.H. Shepard's illustrations in The Wind in the Willows will definitely enjoy the illustrations in Kenny & the Dragon.  If you would like to learn more about this book or author Tony DiTerlizzi, please visit his website and blog.  We are excited to check out his upcoming book The Search for WondLa which is set for release on September 21, 2010.

One additional note about Kenny & the Dragon
Some people who loved the original classic that this book is based upon may be thinking, "Why retell a story that was already great?"  To address that point, I'd like to mention that my daughter and I have also read Kenneth Grahame's The Reluctant Dragon together, but while Kenny & the Dragon had my daughter volunteering to read my chapters as well as her own, she was not at all interested in reading any part of The Reluctant Dragon aloud to me.  She loved listening to The Reluctant Dragon as a bedtime book, but the format and illustrations of the edition we read (which was illustrated by Michael Hague) are much less young-reader-friendly.  That version of The Reluctant Dragon is not separated into chapters and is 42 pages long with illustrations every two to five pages.  Kenny & the Dragon is split into fourteen chapters and spread over 151 pages with illustrations every two to five pages.  Both books have their merits, but I think that the chapter divisions, the woodland animal characters, and the additional illustrations will help Kenny & the Dragon appeal to younger (or more reluctant) readers who might find The Reluctant Dragon intimidating.  We really enjoyed both versions of this fun story.


Jessica said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Candace said...

Sounds very cute, I'll be watching for this one! I didn't do any kids books this week and won't next week either :( But hopefully the following week. Happy reading!

CoffeeShopBloggers said...

I wanted to share my list for reluctant boy readers at


Pragmatic Mom
Type A Parenting for the Modern World
I blog on children's lit, education and parenting

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