Down the Dragon's Tongue

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Mahy and MacCarthy (previously paired for 17 Kings and 42 Elephants) team up for this story of a buttoned-down businessman who literally kicks off his shoes at his children's urging. Mr. Prospero informs twins Miranda and Harry that "fathers wearing white shirts, shiny shoes, and hand-painted silk ties that look like fruit salad" do not ride down huge slides at the park. But after some initial fears, Mr. Prospero discovers he can "Whooosh!" with the best of them, and the twins have a hard time getting him to go home. Mahy's language is offbeat, verbally dexterous and chock-full of repeated metaphors and accumulating jokes. The father's clothes mirror his gradual awakening in both art and text as he loses his buttons and nearly eats his fruit salad tie. MacCarthy's acrylic paintings focus on action and character, but at times seem out of sync with the text. Mahy frequently hints at magic (naming the father Prospero, invoking images of a city that lies "out beyond like a land in a dream" and glows "like a fairyland in the last rays of sunlight"), but MacCarthy largely ignores these metaphors, so that the somewhat flat ending lacks a dreamy punch. Nonetheless, this is still a charmer. Ages 4-7. (Sept.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
For anyone, parent or child, who is having a bad day, reading this enchanting picture book will bring a smile. The Dragon's Tongue is the most colossal of all sliding boards and the Prospero twins are eager to go to the playground to try it out for themselves. The only parent available to take them is Mr. Prospero, who recoils at the idea. He is just getting home from work and is still wearing his best shirt and polished shoes and hand-painted silk tie that looks like a fruit salad. Under protest from father, everyone goes to the park for only one turn down the huge slide. The twins are afraid to go down alone and their prim and proper, well-dressed dad must go down with them. A strange thing happens to Mr. Prospero, who has now kicked off his shoes and removed his jacket for the second time down the slide. Now Mr. Prospero is hooked! The whimsical illustrations by MacCarthy enhance the humorous text and engage the reader. This is a great choice for early childhood and elementary teachers. Also a great selection for any story hour. 2000, Orchard Books, $15.95. Ages 4 to 8. Reviewer: Sue Reichard
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2-Mr. Prospero, a neatly dressed businessman by day, reluctantly risks his penchant for order and escorts his twins to a playground one afternoon. In spite of the children's assurances that he will only have to watch, the hesitant father is cajoled into accompanying them down the "great big, slippery slide," which "shone like the bright, long tongue of a friendly dragon." Together, the quartet (the family dog slides, too) conquers gravity with a "Whooosh! Swiiish! Wheee!" and "Wooow!" MacCarthy's brightly colored illustrations have rhythm and energy that complement the lively tone of the text. The "great big, slippery slide" literally becomes the dragon's tongue, emerging from the gaping dragon mouth at the top of a hill. While this team's Boom, Baby, Boom, Boom (Viking, 1997) and 17 Kings and 42 Elephants (Puffin, 1993) are more original, there are a few trademark Mahy moments of whimsy here.-Robin L. Gibson, Perry County District Library, New Lexington, OH Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Mr. Prospero is a staid businessman who loves the well-ordered world at his office. His suits are always pressed, his tie is always neatly knotted, his hair is always in place, and he always accomplishes his goals in the tidy, well-organized office in which he works. But when Mr. Prospero arrives home where his wife and his twins Harry and Miranda are waiting for him, things are, well, slightly less well-ordered than at work. The children excitedly demand that their dad take them to the playground to play on the beautiful long, red slide shaped like a dragon's tongue. The children assure Daddy that he won't get messy and dirty just watching them go down the slide and they convince him to take them. At the playground, Harry and Miranda beg their father to slide down with them. "We need a father sliding with us. And a dog!" Miranda says happily, knowing her father won't say no to his children. Despite his misgivings and the threat of dirt on his clothes, Mr. Prospero agrees to slide down once. And then slides down once more, and again and again and again. In fact, when Harry and Miranda are tired and want to go home, Mr. Prospero is still climbing the steps to the top of the slide, sliding down, and then starting the process all over. By now, Mr. Prospero has lost his shoes, his shirt has come untucked, his tie is awry, and his hair is mussed. But he's supremely happy. Children will delight in seeing a buttoned-down daddy loosen up and give in to the pleasure of doing something just because it's fun. Although this world seems straight out of the 1950s in its homogeneity (all the characters are white and most of the girls and women wear dresses and are well-groomed), the lack of any sortofdiversity will be more problematical for adults than for the children who will wholeheartedly love the concept. Warm illustrations rendered in acrylics and painted in a deliberately childlike style ably convey the children's enthusiasm and their father's initial ambivalence before he gives in to the exhilaration of sliding down the slide. There is too much empty white background in the design of the book, but this is a minor criticism. An enormously fun and joyous book that works equally well as a group read-aloud or one-on-one. (Picture book. 3-7)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780531302729
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/1/2000
  • Edition description: 1 AMER ED
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 4 - 7 Years
  • Lexile: AD410L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.37 (w) x 9.39 (h) x 0.36 (d)

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