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King Jack and the Dragon

by Peter Bently

Book list Three boys in various stages of diaperdom build a cardboard castle in the back garden and fight dragons and beasts until suppertime in this picture-book adventure from award-winning British creators. With just a few words per page, the rhyming text is printed in typefaces that vary in size and boldness, underscoring the mounting drama, while Oxenbury's alternating full-color watercolors and sepia sketches juxtapose the boys' imaginings with their real-world context. Enormous dragons and fantastical creatures retreat when the boys attack with wooden swords and sticks, but the young heroes are no match for thei. gian. parents, who come to retrieve them, one by one, at day's end. The rhyming verse, large trim size, and detailed illustrations, filled with Oxenbury's usually fine sense of young children's body language and expressions, make this a suitable story for group sharing, while the sweet, intimate tone will make it a family favorite.--Barthelmess, Tho. Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly Fort making is one of the great enterprises of childhood, but just in case the art has been lost to some, Bently (The Great Dog Bottom Swap) and Oxenbury (There's Going to Be a Baby) open their felicitous collaboration with what is essentially an illustrated instruction manual: "A big cardboard box,/ an old sheet and some sticks,/ a couple of trash bags,/ a few broken bricks,/ a fine royal throne/ from a ragged old quilt,/ a drawbridge, a flag-/ and the castle was built." Declaring himself king, Jack leads his friends Zack and Caspar in defending the fort against a menagerie of imaginary creatures. But when Jack's knights are carried off by giants (their parents), Jack finds that a solo defense of the fort is no picnic: "He wished he was anything else but a king." Bently's verse never misses a beat, and Oxenbury shifts between monochromatic, engraving-like drawings and pale watercolors; the images feel as if they were drawn from a classic fairy tale book and contemporary life simultaneously. It's an enchanting tribute to both full-throttle pretend play and the reassurance of a parent's embrace. Ages 3-5. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal PreS-K-"Jack, Zack, and Casper were making a den-a mighty great fort for King Jack and his men." So begins this delicious tale of three adventurous youngsters whose day is filled with constructing a castle (construction box, trash bags, and a ragged quilt) and battling dragons and beasts in an imaginary forest. When evening arrives, Zack and Casper are scooped up seemingly by giants (their parents) and taken home. Alone, Jack at first braves the quivering trees and sounds of scampering animals until a four-footed "SOMETHING" looms out of the night. But no, it is his parents, and Jack, riding home on his father's shoulders, claims, "I knew you weren't really a dragon." Soft colors and the fanciful expressions on the various creatures offset any scare youngsters might find in the story, and the children's beguiling faces are warm and friendly. A balance of brown-toned crosshatched drawings and full-color artwork adds to the easy flow of the action. A tale of make-believe that children will delight in hearing again and again.-Barbara Elleman, Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, Amherst, MA (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.