Dragon Was Terrible by Kelly DiPucchio and Greg Pizzoli: a Review
Every week or so my two year old's favorite book changes. (I call it his flavor of the week. Kidding, no I don't.) Sometimes I love the book he is asking for on repeat, usually I like it, and very occasionally it's a book I cannot stand so...then I hide it. Luckily he's been into Dragon Was Terrible for the past few weeks and I have not hid it even once.
Want to know how we picked this book out? Grandma was in town and wanted to get us a new book. We went to the bookstore and I got a stack of books I thought we both might like. I started reading and Dragon Was Terrible was the only book he sat the whole way through (it was not the first book we read, by the way). So it came home with us. Along with a little piano because Grandma's are softies. ;)
In my humble opinion, there are a couple things this book really does right. I have to mention how great the narrator's voice is. It's so colloquial. It's so friendly. It's so quirky. Honestly, it's what makes this story so fun (read this book and you'll get that hilarious joke). It flows so well as a read aloud. Or a read in your head. It just flows.
The throw-back style of the illustrations is the second spot-on element. They are so fun! The dragon and the medieval setting are depicted in a light-hearted way that matches the story. If these illustrations were trying to be more elegant or beautiful they wouldn't have worked so well. The playful style was perfect. I really appreciate good illustration and I think it really sets the tone for a "picture" book. I'm obsessed with words so I'm not gonna say they are more important than the words but, well, they are called picture books for a reason. And there's a reason wordless picture books with solid illustrations work so well.
Is there anything I don't like about this book? Well...I feel like making a book must be such a labor of love that any unfair criticism must really hurt. I always want to be kind when reviewing a book. But honesty is also really important, especially to a reader. And we all know what they say about constructive criticism. So. Honestly, (hehe) the ending wasn't totally believable to me. The character transformation, if you will. Like the part in How the Grinch Stole Christmas where the Grinch hears the Who's singing and his heart grows three sizes and then the conclusion of the story totally works. That was a little bit off for me in Dragon Was Terrible. Not totally off, just a little. Like maybe 4% off. Perhaps I just needed a little more of a window into that transformation. Perhaps I just missed it. Perhaps it's just personal preference.
Do I still honestly absolutely 100% love and recommend this book and hope to read it to my kids three times tomorrow? Yes yes and yes. And I am pretty sure you will too.
What book does your kid have on rotation? I'd love to check it out. (Literally. From the library.) If you've read this book, how did you like it?
***I also listened to this interview of the author and illustrator and it was fascinating and fun. Highly recommend it you're interested in the story behind the story..***