Kenny & the Dragon is such a wonderful book! My daughter loved this sweet story, which is a retelling of Kenneth Grahame's classic The Reluctant D...moreKenny & the Dragon is such a wonderful book! My daughter loved this sweet story, which is a retelling of Kenneth Grahame's classic The Reluctant Dragon. Unlike the human cast of the original story, Kenny & the Dragon is brought to life by a wonderful cast of woodland animals, much like Kenneth Grahame's other classic 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 retellings 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.
One additional note about this book: 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 version we read (which was illustrated by Michael Hague) are much less young-reader-friendly. That edition 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 the chapter divisions, the woodland animal characters, and the additional illustrations may 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. :)(less)
It's Raining Cupcakes is a delicious middle-grade book about learning to treasure the people and places closest to your heart. It is about being happy...moreIt's Raining Cupcakes is a delicious middle-grade book about learning to treasure the people and places closest to your heart. It is about being happy with who you are and pursuing your dreams in spite of challenges. One tiny warning: this book might also leave you craving yummy cupcakes! Thankfully, there are recipes at the end of the book to keep your sweet tooth satisfied. :)
What I Liked: - Isabel's voice is authentic and believable, and I quickly found myself caught up in her dreams of traveling far away from her small town life. It is also easy to understand why she hopes to distance herself from her easily-daunted mother. - The supporting characters are eccentric and entertaining. From the joke-cracking barber to the talented artist and the very rambunctious twins, I enjoyed all of the colorful characters in Isabel's life. - I liked the concept of their little independent shop striving to be successful when a big corporate bakery moves into town. Not only is it easy to cheer for the underdog, but this book nicely illustrated exactly how and why small businesses are valuable to a community. - Willow is a charming small town with an old-fashioned feel to it. Although Isabel longs to travel, her tiny hometown is actually painted in a flattering light and it is fun to see her come to appreciate her life there. - Isabel's friend Sophie is bright, charismatic, and overflowing with personality. Their friendship is a perfectly captured best friend relationship complete with affection, camaraderie, and a touch of jealousy. - The cupcake chapter titles are cute and clever, and the baking contest is exactly the kind of thing I would have loved to read about (and enter) as a little girl.
What I Wished: - Isabel's mother is emotionally fragile, which is an important aspect of her character & the conflict in this book. But the way the family tiptoes around Isabel's mom is sometimes more frustrating than her own depressed and easily-discouraged state of mind. I don't believe fictional characters are under any obligation to be role models, but I did hope to see some of the adults in the book stop tiptoeing around Isabel's mom and begin taking responsibility for urging her toward making positive changes in a more proactive way (without relying on Isabel to take the initiative).
It's Raining Cupcakes is a fun middle-grade novel that can be enjoyed by kids of all ages! I would recommend it to fans of other sweet middle-grade books like Lindsay Eland's Scones and Sensibility or Lindsey Leavitt's Princess for Hire. Readers who enjoyed Lisa Schroeder's young adult books like I Heart You, You Haunt Me and Chasing Brooklyn may also want to check out this middle-grade novel. It's Raining Cupcakes is much lighter in tone and subject matter than her YA verse novels, but Lisa's talent for creating characters who act and feel authentic is apparent in all of her books.(less)