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Kenny & the Dragon

Review

Kenny & the Dragon

From Tony DiTerlizzi, one of the creators of The Spiderwick Chronicles, comes this new chapter book that is a retelling of Kenneth Grahame's classic tale "The Reluctant Dragon." This story of a battle between a bookseller named George and a dragon named Grahame is loosely based on the legendary battle between St. George and the dragon.

Kenny Rabbit is a bookish, somewhat lonely little bunny who lives in the sleepy village of Roundbrook. Kenny is thrilled to learn that a dragon (whose name is Grahame, like the cracker) has come to live on the hill behind his mom and dad's farm. Kenny and his parents soon learn that Grahame is that rarity among dragons, a gentle and cultured fellow. Grahame loves literature, enjoys reciting long poems over dinner, and only uses his fire-breathing abilities to torch crème brûlée through his left nostril.

At school one day, Kenny accidentally lets slip the fact that he has seen a real, live dragon and that it is nothing like the dragons in tales. As the villagers learn of the dragon's presence in their midst, their panic and fear spreads, putting Kenny's new friend in grave danger. In fact, Kenny's other best friend, George, a retired knight and dragonslayer, has been ordered by the king to exterminate Grahame. Kenny is desperate to keep his two friends from fighting and perhaps killing each other, but no one will listen to him in the frenzy leading up to the battle.

Kenny must find a way to convince Grahame and George that they would become fast friends if they only got to know each other. He alone has the power to stop this battle and save both his friends. How will he do it?

KENNY & THE DRAGON has an ease that makes for a pleasant read. Although lacking the depth or thrills of The Spiderwick Chronicles and failing to fully capture the charm of "The Reluctant Dragon," it is an enjoyable enough read on its own. It's fun to spot the direct and indirect references to the original author and the work scattered throughout KENNY & THE DRAGON (such as the use of the names Kenny and Grahame for the characters and the inclusion of "Shepard Hill" to reference the original artist of the Kenneth Grahame book).

DiTerlizzi's drawings of Kenny, Grahame, George and the village of Roundbrook are utterly lovely. Kenny has a slightly goofy, completely endearing charm; Grahame's face is unique and expressive and has character; and George is an ancient, battle-scarred yet benign-looking badger. The pictures, beautifully conceived and executed as they are, often prove to be more interesting than the actual text or plot. While KENNY & THE DRAGON is a perfectly nice chapter book, it might have been outstanding as a comic book.

Reviewed by Usha Reynolds on August 5, 2008

Kenny & the Dragon
by Tony DiTerlizzi

  • Publication Date: August 5, 2008
  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
  • ISBN-10: 1416939776
  • ISBN-13: 9781416939771