King Jack and the Dragon by Peter Bentley and Helen Oxenbury. Book Review.

This is a rhyming book about three little boys who make a castle out of a cardboard box and other found items. They spend the whole day fighting imaginary dragons and beasts. King Jack suggests that they sleep in the fort but Zach’s father comes to get him and then Casper’s mother comes as well. Jack decides he will fight dragons alone but the deepening black and the evening noises begin to prey on his nerves. He panics at the sound of something with four feet, and shouts, “A dragon! A dragon! Mommy! Dad! Help!” His parents apologize for frightening him, his mother hugs him, and his father carries him home on his back.

The lovely illustrations appear to be pen and ink drawings with hash marks and watercolor. The children are adorable and expressive.

The simple story is suited for very young children who enjoy playing pretend but sometimes allow their imaginations to run away with them.

One thing I found disconcerting is that the children in the story are approximately five, three, and one year old yet they appear to be left alone in a wooded area for the entire day. I would have felt better if one of the final pictures showed the parents sitting farther back but in view of the makeshift castle. The apparent lack of safe supervision makes this an uncomfortable story to share with a child.

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Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages


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