Friday, February 6, 2009

Kenny and the Dragon by Tony DiTerlizzi

DiTerlizzi, Tony. Kenny and the Dragon. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2008.

Kenny Rabbit is an unusual boy. The narrator describes him: "So it is not surprising that he enjoyed going to school. He always asked compelling questions, always did his homework (complete with footnotes and a bibliography), and always had fantastic notions about what he wanted to do when he grew up" (v). As you can tell from this description, Kenny doesn't fit in very well. He doesn't have many friends. One of his best friends is George, an elderly bookshop owner. One day Kenny makes a new friend. A very unusual friend indeed. Grahame is a dragon. Yes, one of those--wings, teeth, claws, fiery breath, enormous. But Kenny's surprise, for once a book is wrong. The King's Bestiary describes dragons as devils and scourges. Grahame is none of these things. He likes to read, write poetry, and play the piano. He also has quite a discerning palette. You've probably guessed that the other townspeople don't look on Grahame as a friend. They believe what they've always believed, that dragons are devils. Grahame becomes a matter of kingdom security. The King calls his best dragon-slayer out of retirement. Who do you suppose it is? None other than Kenny's friend George. Now, it just won't do to have you're friends killing each other, so Kenny devises a plan to save the day and make everyone happy.

What I thought: This was a truly delightful book. It appeals on so many levels: the characters are animals and the story has a fairy tale character. The fact that all the animals were different reminded me a little of Disney's animate film Robin Hood (1973). The intrusive narrator reminded me of Kate DiCamillo's The Tale of Despereaux. However, the narrator in Kenny and the Dragon was less intrusive, a gentle narrator if you will. His observations didn't take away from the story in the slightest. This book was a fast read. It would make a great read aloud for elementary school kids. DiTerlizzi's illustrations were wonderful. I can see this book being made into an animated film one day.

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