Author/Illustrator: Amanda Driscoll
Age Range: 2-5
Synopsis: Duncan’s love of literature is drastically hindered when his imagination takes aflame, literally. Will he ever be able to finish a story without burning it to a crisp?
We have so many stories of dragons as these lofty beings. Whether they’re battling knights or saving the day, they exist in a realm completely inaccessible to us mortals. That’s part of what makes them so magical and mysterious and I must admit only increases their appeal. However, it also becomes magical when one of these creatures struggles with an everyday sort of problem (not that many of us find our reading material spontaneously bursting into flame). Something like a struggle to read that many people and little ones especially have an issue with. And while these issues may not be fire based the difficulty in finishing a book is one and the same. Driscoll provides an completely relatable template for this, featuring a legendary creature and including a sweet collection of illustrations that humanizes a dragon, making him all the more real to little ones.
Duncan’s love of reading is the first thing that’s introduced in this exceedingly charming story. He has a love for adventure, whether that’s aliens, Vikings, or pirates. However once he begins to lose himself in the story, he also seems to lose his reading material due to his fiery breath that becomes active along with his imagination. He tries everything to keep himself cool but to no avail. His next idea is to have someone read to him. His reputation as a dragon proceeds him though and no one is willing to talk to him, let alone read him a story. It’s only a fellow literary lover that’s willing to listen. Duncan finds a great friend and is able to finally hear the end of the story.
Driscoll does a great job of making the illustrations lively and cute. Duncan is depicted wearing red tennis shoes and never far from a chocolate milkshake, making him extremely different than the intimidating dragons often shown in stories. His imagination also takes on a new sort of light. Every time Duncan slips into his imagination he finds himself in monochromatic worlds tinted with a singular color, depending often on the color of the book cover. As the only multi-colored player in these scenes (until mouse joins him), Duncan is easily identifiable by young readers. His chance to visually play out scenes from his imagination also provides readers with an opportunity to live vicariously through him.
Duncan the Story Dragon isn’t a traditional dragon and this story isn’t going to win any awards for amazing literature. But it’s perfect for little ones who are just being introduced to the new beings and fills a great niche of a cute dragon verses one that majestic and awe-inspiring. And best of all it’s a great excuse to snuggle up with a book and a chocolate milkshake.
1. Have a milkshake ready to go before, during, or after the story.
2. Check out the endpapers. Too cute.
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