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Everyone Knows What a Dragon Looks Like
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Everyone Knows What a Dragon Looks Like

4.49  ·  Rating Details ·  277 Ratings  ·  47 Reviews
Because of the road sweeper's belief in him, a dragon saves the city of Wu from the Wild Horsemen of the north.
Hardcover, 27 pages
Published December 1st 1976 by Four Winds (first published January 1st 1976)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Lisa Vegan
This is a wonderful fairy tale for children about not trusting in outward appearances. A city is about to be invaded and the people pray to a dragon to save them. When a fat old man shows up claiming he is the dragon, only the young hero is open to believing what he says.

The illustrations are gorgeous, with much to view on each page.

The story is message heavy, but it’s told so well that it’s very entertaining. Parts are also hilarious; it sure gives a new meaning to a leader’s command to “Follow
Feb 05, 2009 Susan rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
Katy says she tells this story, which I bet is great. It's a little long for storytime and the pictures are dense, so it's a great story to tell, although I will probably never get around to learning it. Enjoyed the read though!
Jan 13, 2008 Mattie rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone
One of those books that should never have gone out of print. An amazingly sad decision on the part of the publishers. It has a great story, wonderful, magical illustrations, and is on my shelf forever. Buy one used-- it's worth it.
A book my 6 yr old as well as my twin 3 yr olds loved. A solid reading level 1 book, this cute story keeps all ages engaged with the bright colorful pictures and cute story. A great addition to any children's library.
Raphael Rosen
Jul 07, 2015 Raphael Rosen rated it it was amazing
This is one of my very favorite books. The story has a good moral and the illustrations are lush and well done. This book is probably best for kids in third grade and above. Highly recommended!
Jun 13, 2008 Miriam rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture
Jay Williams gentle admonitory tale blends harmoniously with Mayer's wonderful illustrations, which are at once beautiful and humorous.
Karen GoatKeeper
Dec 28, 2016 Karen GoatKeeper rated it it was amazing
What does a dragon look like? If you've never seen one, how do you know?
This is a Chinese tale and the illustrations are done in the Chinese style. Many characters are pompous and certainly know what a dragon looks like. And the dragon must come to save them from the advancing Wild Horsemen.
A humble little boy isn't sure what a dragon looks like. What he is sure of is how a real Chinese boy should act: polite and courteous.
The tale is simple. The dragon is endearing. The ending will make you lau
Jul 07, 2014 Tiffany rated it it was amazing
Shelves: animal-heroes
Wonderful wonderful wonderful drawings ... each one of them is a gem. I could live for the rest of my life with the least of them painted on my wall. What a nice story--the age old: "Be kind to others, give away what little you have," and "Beware foolish first impressions." Such a sweet story. Such lovely words.
The Wild Horsemen were very close. They wore fur caps and the skins of tigers. They shot arrows at the city as they rode hard on their shaggy horses.
The little fat man puffed out his c
Aug 08, 2016 Lynetta added it
Shelves: children
The illustrations by Mercer Mayer add to this work's appeal.

Orphaned Han lives near the gate between the city of Wu and China and is cheerful.

A messenger goes to the palace and tells the ruler the city of Wu is to be destroyed and China attacked. After consulting the wise men it is pointed out the army is not good at fighting, running will cause heads to be cut off, surrendering will result in heads lost. The fourth option is to pray to the Great Cloud Dragon for help.

A small fat man appears
Squilliam Fancyson
Dec 28, 2014 Squilliam Fancyson rated it really liked it
A while ago I came across a large framed picture of the cover image of this book at a yard sale. I bought it merely because I loved the artwork; it hung on my wall for over two years before I learned it was an illustration from a book. I bought the book on Ebay and just finished reading it. I'm very happy to finally have learned the background to the picture I've admired for so long. The story is nice, though I wish the dragon (in dragon form) served an actual purpose. It has such a simple, yet ...more
Jan 11, 2016 metimoteo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A too often ignored classic of the highest order, Williams' wonderful tale of a young boy with nothing who offers the only kindness to a stranger, and then in turn saves his city from ruin. Treat everyone you meet with common courtesy, for you never know... that person may be a dragon. Mercer Mayer's illustrations have the look of his other work, but in Everyone Knows What a Dragon Looks Like, they're raised to a higher order. This is a goto read aloud for me. I share it with children at least o ...more
Jan 11, 2012 Trang rated it really liked it
Shelves: multicultural
This is a book with great illustrations that allows for readers to see what story telling and visual arts look like in different cultures. This Chinese tale is great for students to see the differences in what they choose to read and what other children in the world are reading.

I would use this book to show my students different types of literature and allow for them to compare and contrast two different types of literature.
Oct 18, 2008 Angel rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone, it's a classic
Recommended to Angel by: Mom read it to me when i was little
Another favorite from my childhood that is very hard to find. The art in this is beautiful you almost want to frame it, and the story is funny with a very good moral.

When the little old man comes to their village saying he is a cloud dragon who can save them from the huns, only the little sweeper boy shows him kindness for everyone knows that a dragon doesn't look like a short fat bald man.....or do they.
Emily H. Sturgill
Oct 31, 2013 Emily H. Sturgill rated it it was amazing
This was my favorite childhood book. I can still remember taking it out of my Elementary school's library. I read it multiple times. It is a lovely story about a poor beggar who travels village to village but secretly he is really a dragon.

Many years later I got a tattoo of a buddha turning into a dragon based on mercier myers beautiful illustrations. This is an awesome book.
Jan 26, 2014 Shannon rated it it was amazing
We owned this when I was a little kid, and I remember reading it over and over. My father was on a personal mission to find a copy for Moira when she was just born, but everything he could find was $50 (with the original Mercer Mayer illustrations). Fortunately they was a reprint, so we now have a copy. The kids both like this book, and the dragon is worth the wait.
Shelby Ibarra
Sep 19, 2016 Shelby Ibarra rated it it was amazing
This was a fantastic read with beautiful and realistic illustrations. This story teaches that you can't always judge someone/something by their appearances or stereotypes. There is often a struggle between appearance vs reality and this story teaches that you can't go through life just assuming everything.
I really enjoyed reading this story.
Jun 13, 2014 Carol rated it it was amazing
I have loved this book for years. I've used it as a read-aloud with grades K-5 and all of the kids stayed right with me. A friend tried it as a read-aloud and reported it wasn't a fit with her. I'm hoping my grand daughter will love this one as much as I do...but gently, as I have an old, well-used, well-loved copy to share with her.
Oct 30, 2014 Kayli rated it it was amazing
A perfect children's book--for the child, and for the parent reading. The pictures are FANTASTIC--I looooove them. They are perfectly disturbing enough to really capture a boy's attention. :) And the story is wonderful too. It's not too long, and not too short. I recommend everyone who has a son to buy it.
Wraith Tate
Oct 23, 2007 Wraith Tate rated it it was amazing
One of my very favorite books as a kid. Glorious illustrations and has a good moral. My copy is extremely battered and very well loved, and I have shared it with many of the children that I've encountered over the years.
Nov 05, 2009 Carol rated it really liked it
Megan pointed this book out to me on the shelving truck. I had never seen it before. I thought it was very cute. I was born during Chinese New Year in the Year of the Dragon -- a very auspicious time. So I know that dragons don't just look like little old men. ;-)
Feb 11, 2009 Katia rated it it was amazing
I have loved this book my entire life. The story is sweet and telling, and has some wonderful language to play with (epithets for characters, repetitious alliteration), and the art is breathtaking, glimmering with gold and red and all the beauty of a true dragon.
This is my all-time favorite childrens' book. Lovely story with a lesson/moral, and unbelievable artwork too. I'm completely convinced that the reason I grew up to be a good person is because my parents read this to me as a kid.
Jun 11, 2008 Rebecca rated it it was amazing
WOW this was hard to find! Took my local library 2 months to come up with it and I still can't find a copy to buy. Charming book, delightful illustrations, and I want a copy for myself and for the two new babies in my life.
Aug 10, 2007 Ted rated it it was amazing
My all-time favorite children's book. It's impossible to get now, unless you check some second-hand shops or But I'll loan you my copy if you promise to take care of it!
Jul 30, 2007 Lafcadio rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lafcadio by: Colin
Quite possibly my favorite picture book of all time. Can't I give it more than 5 stars? Out of print now, sad.
Jul 27, 2016 Kat rated it it was amazing
Wonderful! Beautiful story told simply with gorgeous pictures. Plus the moral is clear but the reader isn't beaten over the head with it. Just lovely!
Rebecca Sheedy
Feb 05, 2008 Rebecca Sheedy rated it it was amazing
For children. Gorgeously illustrated and brilliantly told story about humility and power. Do you know what a dragon really looks like?
Feb 10, 2008 Ben rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was my favorite bed time story as a child. The story is great and the illustrations are amazing
Jan 23, 2015 Kami rated it really liked it
I loved the illustrations and it was a fun story. The Wild Horsemen looked pretty ferocious! (That's a good thing.) And my kids liked it.
Jan 16, 2013 Brian rated it it was amazing
hands down best watercolor/pen illustrations i've seen a more "sophisticated" handling of color and line compared with many children's books out there.
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Jay Williams (May 31, 1914–July 12, 1978) was an American author born in Buffalo, New York, the son of Max and Lillian Jacobson. He cited the experience of growing up as the son of a vaudeville show producer as leading him to pursue his acting career as early as college. Between 1931 and 1934 he attended the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University where he took part in amateur theatrica ...more
More about Jay Williams...

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