Kenny and the Dragon

( 5 )

Overview

What do you do when your new best buddy has been designated a scourge by the community and marked for imminent extermination? Just ask Kenny Rabbit. When the simple folks in the sleepy little village of Roundbrook catch wind that there's a dragon running loose in the countryside, they get the wrong idea and the stage is set for a fight to the death. So it's up to Kenny to give his neighbors front-row seats to one of the best-known battles in history — the legendary showdown between St. George and the dragon — ...

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Overview

What do you do when your new best buddy has been designated a scourge by the community and marked for imminent extermination? Just ask Kenny Rabbit. When the simple folks in the sleepy little village of Roundbrook catch wind that there's a dragon running loose in the countryside, they get the wrong idea and the stage is set for a fight to the death. So it's up to Kenny to give his neighbors front-row seats to one of the best-known battles in history — the legendary showdown between St. George and the dragon — without losing a friend in the fray.

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  • Kenny and the Dragon
    Kenny and the Dragon  

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Fans hooked on DiTerlizzi's (coauthor of the Spiderwick Chronicles) goblins and fairies may be disappointed initially that his newest novel has neither, but chances are they'll warm up to this old-fashioned tale that contains at least one dragon. Kenny, a clever rabbit, befriends a dragon who has settled on his family's property. Overcoming his fears, Kenny soon realizes that Grahame is not the stereotyped fire-breathing creature he reads about in books but a well-read, insightful dragon with a flair for the dramatic arts and poetry. But news of Grahame's presence leaks out to the townsfolk, and before long the king summons a retired knight named (what else?) George-he is also a friend of Kenny's-to battle Grahame to the death. DiTerlizzi's novel is light-hearted and his informal pencil sketches enhance the creative interpretation of what would otherwise be a simple animal story. Some readers might struggle with the mannered vocabulary, which encompasses words like "drake" and varlet," and Beowulf references will probably be lost on the intended audience. Regardless, readers will understand the author's message: make friends, not unfair judgments. Ages 8-12. (Aug.)

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Children's Literature - Renee Farrah
In Kenny Rabbit,'s cozy world life drifts along smoothly, despite the bookish and intellectual interests that separate him from his classmates. When his father comes home terrified after spotting a dragon on their property, Kenny's knowledge and curiosity give him the courage to investigate. It turns out that the dragon is a kindred spirit. Grahame, who pronounces his name "just like the cracker, except with an ‘e' at the end," also loves reading, theater, poetry, and gourmet cooking. Grahame's only hunger is to learn more. He is above mindless activities like burning down castles and eating princesses. Unfortunately, as Kenny's friendship with Grahame grows, so does the townspeople's fear and ignorance. While Kenny and his parents picnic with Grahame, the town prepares to watch the king's dragon-slayer destroy what they believe to be a fiery beast, even though they have never met him. Kenny must do anything he can to save his new friend and educate the town about what dragons are really like. This is a charmingly fun take on St. George and the dragon in which the town of Roundbrook is filled with animals taking on human roles and all learn a lesson about prejudice from a child. Reviewer: Renee Farrah
School Library Journal

Gr 3-6

Kenny's father brings home a fearsome description of an enormous creature: "...one of them flying things that eats pretty maidens and burns castles to the ground." Instead of being frightened, Kenny, a curious and well-read rabbit, wants to meet the beast. His father, not too bright in some ways but quite sensible in others, is sure Kenny can handle it, but Kenny's no-nonsense mother insists, "Dishes and homework first." What follows is a delightful riff on Kenneth Grahame's classic The Reluctant Dragon , starring a dragon named Grahame that can delicately torch crème brûlée with the flames from his left nostril and has no interest in killing anyone. Before long, rumors and fear create a mob mentality among the local townspeople, and Kenny has to come up with a plan to prevent the retired dragon slayer (George, of course) from killing Grahame. This is a fun story with substance. At one point, Kenny wonders, "How can they want someone killed they don't even know?... How can George just blindly do whatever the king says?" The civilizing influence of literature is another theme that has relevance for today's readers. Lively pencil sketches add to the charm. The author's reputation will enhance the popularity of this solid fantasy.-Lauralyn Persson, Wilmette Public Library, IL

Kirkus Reviews
Reports of children requesting rewrites of The Reluctant Dragon are rare at best, but this new version may be pleasing to young or adult readers less attuned to the pleasures of literary period pieces. Along with modernizing the language-"Hmf! This Beowulf fellow had a severe anger management problem"-DiTerlizzi dials down the original's violence. The red-blooded Boy is transformed into a pacifistic bunny named Kenny, St. George is just George the badger, a retired knight who owns a bookstore, and there is no actual spearing (or, for that matter, references to the annoyed knight's "Oriental language") in the climactic show-fight with the friendly, creme-brulee-loving dragon Grahame. In look and spirit, the author's finely detailed drawings of animals in human dress are more in the style of Lynn Munsinger than, for instance, Ernest Shepard or Michael Hague. They do, however, nicely reflect the bright, informal tone of the text. A readable, if denatured, rendition of a faded classic. (Fantasy. 9-11)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416939771
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
  • Publication date: 8/5/2008
  • Pages: 160
  • Sales rank: 261,196
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 820L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Tony DiTerlizzi

Tony DiTerlizzi is a New York Times bestselling author and illustrator who has been creating books with Simon & Schuster for more than a decade. From his fanciful picture books like Jimmy Zangwow’s Out-of-this-World Moon Pie Adventure, Adventure of Meno (with his wife, Angela), and The Spider & The Fly (a Caldecott Honor book), to chapter books like Kenny and The Dragon and The Search for WondLa, Tony always imbues his stories with a rich imagination. His middle grade series, The Spiderwick Chronicles (with Holly Black), has sold millions of copies, been adapted into a feature film, and has been translated in more than thirty countries. You can visit him at DiTerlizzi.com.

Tony DiTerlizzi is a New York Times bestselling author and illustrator who has been creating books with Simon & Schuster for more than a decade. From his fanciful picture books like Jimmy Zangwow’s Out-of-this-World Moon Pie Adventure, Adventure of Meno (with his wife, Angela), and The Spider & The Fly (a Caldecott Honor book), to chapter books like Kenny and The Dragon and The Search for WondLa, Tony always imbues his stories with a rich imagination. His middle grade series, The Spiderwick Chronicles (with Holly Black), has sold millions of copies, been adapted into a feature film, and has been translated in more than thirty countries. You can visit him at DiTerlizzi.com.

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Read an Excerpt

I. That Devil Scourge

Kenny's father burst into the kitchen, panting heavily. His ears twitched. It was suppertime, and Kenny's mom was making her family's favorite, corn chowder. The soup's heavy aroma swirled about as the farmer moved through the room.

"Pack all yer things! We're outta here! We're moving!" Kenny's dad hollered. He was a scraggly, hairy fellow wearing a wide-brimmed hat, and he was trying to catch his breath, as if he'd been running.

"Moving? Not now, mister," Kenny's mom eplied. "The corn's not boiling yet, the broth isn't quite right, and I still have to sew the patches on Kenneth's trousers for school tomorrow."

Kenny's dad paused, walked to the stove, dipped a finger in the pot, and agreed it still wasn't quite right.

"Get your dirty paws out of my chowder! Wash your hands, have some milk, and tell me what's got you so riled up." She ground a little pepper into her broth. Unlike Kenny's father, she was soft, round, huggable, and seemed to always be adorned in an apron with a spoon in hand.

Kenny's dad did as he was told. Then he stroked his ears and started: "This afternoon my eyes saw something I wish they'd never seen. I went to shepherd home the flock up on top of Shepard's Hill, where they had been a-grazin' all day. As soon as I get up there, I sees the sheep all huddled and quiet on the far side of the hilltop, and I think to meself, what in the world has got 'em so spooked? So I wander over to the other side of the hill, you know where them rocks and boulders are?"

"Mm-hmm. Here, taste this. Better?"

"Yes, much better. So I — "

"Hold on, dear. Kenneth! Get out here and set the table."

The wooden floorboards creaked as Kenny shuffled into the kitchen, his head buried in his book. He was reading a story about a giant, written by a man named Oscar. Without looking up, the small, skinny lad opened the cupboard and grabbed plates to place on the table.

"Not plates — bowls, Kenneth. I told you earlier we're having corn chowder tonight. Get your head out of the clouds, put the book down for a minute, and set the table properly." His mom snatched the book out of his paws and set it on the counter.

The wooden counter was dinged, scratched, and stained from years of use. Pots and pans hung from the ceiling, right above where Kenny's mom was cooking. She reached over and opened one of the numerous round windows to allow the cool country air into the kitchen.

"Don't you want to hear the rest of my story?" Kenny's dad whimpered through his milk mustache.

"Of course, dear. Of course. What did you find in the rocks?" his mom said as she tasted the soup.

"So there I am, climbin' up on them big rocks and boulders. All the while I'm thinkin' there must be a wolf, a lion, or a bear hiding in there. Remember I said I heard those weird whooshin' sounds coming from the hill last week?"

Kenny folded the napkins and placed them around the banged-up wooden table. "I remember that," he said. "I thought — "

"Hold on, son, hold on," his dad interrupted, waving his hands about. "So I make some noises of my own to see if I can spook it off. And that's when I saw it."

Kenny stopped setting the table and looked up. "Saw what?" The gears in the lad's brain began to turn. He realized his father's tale involved some sort of encounter with a carnivorous animal. Kenny figured he could determine just what his dad had seen based on the description. A lion was out of the question — they were too far east for lions. Wolves usually traveled in packs and were rarely seen in these parts, but bears did prefer rocky outcroppings and caves....

"Well, first I smell something burning. Not wood, but something smokylike. Then I see a pair of glowing eyes, and then a head, as big as this here table, peers out from an opening in the side of the hill, and it's covered in horns and scales and fur like a crocagator."

"You mean alligator," Kenny corrected him, though he wondered what sort of alligator had horns and fur.

"Exactly, but have you ever seen a blue alligator? With a neck like a turkey, and a body like one of them giant lizardy things in your books?"

"You mean dinosaurs, Dad? Those really did exist, you know. Scientists have even found their bones in old — "

"No, son. This wasn't one of them Brontosaurus rexes." His father looked him in the eyes. "It was like one of them flying things that eats pretty maidens and burns castles to the ground."

Kenny paused for a moment. It can't be, he said to himself. It couldn't be. He put the last of the silverware in its place on the table.

His father just sat there staring at him with his big eyes. Glancing over at his mother, Kenny noticed she had stopped cooking and was looking at them quietly while holding the ladle. He turned back to his father. "Dad, are you talking about a dragon?"

"Yes, son. I am talking about one of them dragons." He started pacing around the kitchen, waving his arms wildly. "It's taken up residence on the side of Shepard's Hill, and we gotta sell the farm and move before that devil, that scourge, comes down and burns everything right to the ground." Copyright © 2008 by Tony DiTerlizzi

II. Dishes and Homework

Not in a million years," Kenny's mom said. She then blew on her spoonful of soup and sipped it up.

"But Mom! It's a dragon! I wanna go see it before anybody else does!"

"Who knows what that thing could do to you? You could get bit, or scratched up, and it's probably carrying all kinds of diseases. Right, Pa?"

As usual, Kenny's father was much calmer now that he had eaten, and Kenny studied him as he started on his third bowl of chowder. The dainty wooden soup spoon looked odd held in his rugged, worn paws. In fact, the lad half waited for his father to lift the bowl up and slurp the remainder of the chowder. Instead he calmly said, "If Kit thinks he can handle the likes of a dragon, then I think we should let him. After all," he continued, winking at his son, "he ain't no little bunny anymore."

His mom folded her napkin and set it on the table. She sighed. "All right, but not until you finish the dishes and your homework."

"Awww! I can do those later. Lemme go now, pleeeease!"

"Dishes and homework first," she repeated as she pointed at him with her spoon.

Kenny cleared the table and cleaned the dishes in record time. As he finished drying the last of the soup bowls, he watched the sun sink lower and lower in the darkening sky.

When he was finished, he ran into his room and dumped his book bag upside down onto his bed. Textbooks spilled out, pencils rolled off onto the floor, and loose papers scattered like white leaves. Kenny shuffled through it all and picked up Stars and Their Constellations, the book he was supposed to do a book report on. It was his last assignment for the school year, and it would be an easy one for him, as he'd read the astronomy text front to back several times already — now he simply needed to write the report.

Or, he thought, with a little persuasion on my teacher, Mrs. Skunkmeyer, I could do an oral report instead, and I won't have to write anything...so technically, I'd be finished with my homework.

However, an oral book report meant going in front of the class and talking. The last time Kenny had done that, it was on the topic of "The Migration of the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird" for his science class, and it hadn't gone so well. One of his classmates had started snoring loudly, and another hooted, "Snoring! Boring!" bringing snickers to the entire room as Kenny tried to give his presentation. The other kids just didn't get excited about the stuff that he did. But honestly, who wouldn't be fascinated by the idea of a tiny bird flying all over the world by itself? If a little hummingbird could do that, well then...He paused in his thoughts, for there on the bookshelf, next to his copy of Amazing Hummingbird Stories was an old bestiary he had borrowed from his friend George.

He grabbed the leather-bound tome and opened it up. It smelled musty and old, and in one whiff, Kenny was back in George's dim bookshop in a beat-up armchair, surrounded by stacks of books. Even though the shop appeared messy, it was quite organized. Yet only George knew where everything was, as he hardly ever left his little literary sanctuary.

When Kenny would visit, the retiree would always recount a story about his past adventures, usually over a game of chess, and he had plenty of new and interesting books to show. Many times he would let Kenny borrow books from the store as long as he took good care of them and returned them in their brand-new condition once he was finished. Sometimes he'd just let Kenny keep them as a gift.

Kenny flipped through the yellowed pages of the bestiary. Albatross...bear...chimera..."Dragon!" he said aloud. Kenny hadn't finished this book yet and had read only some of the entries. The illustration for the dragon showed a vicious, sinewy, coiled monster belching white-hot flames.

An actual dragon, the young rabbit said to himself. It's like seeing a living dinosaur. Imagine bringing him to class for the science fair.

He turned the page, and there were more pictures. One was of an armored knight fighting a dragon. In one hand the knight held a shield, in the other a long lance, with which he was pinning the reptilian beast down to the blackened, scorched earth. Fallen knights littered the background. A little gear in Kenny's mind clicked into place. "Maybe I can do my report on this bestiary instead — and add my own field observations," he said, slamming the book shut and shoving it into his worn leather book bag. "I better get prepared."

Dashing through the house, Kenny grabbed a pot, a pan, some rope, an old broom, and a garbage can lid. He strapped the blackened frying pan to his chest using the rope and his belt. Placing the pot on his head, he rolled up the sleeves to his flannel shirt and grabbed the broom, the lid, and his book bag as he headed for the door.

His mother and father were sitting in their rockers on the front porch. His dad was smoking his after-dinner pipe, while his mom was stitching a patch onto the knee of Kenny's trousers. Without looking up, she said, "I'm glad those are play clothes you're in. Homework finished?"

"Yes, Mom," Kenny replied, taking a lantern and hooking it to the handlebar on this bike.

"Be careful, Kenneth. I hope you know what yer doin'," his father said. He sucked on his pipe and rocked slowly in his chair, watching the sun set. "And tell that varmint not to eat any of my sheep."

Kenny turned to his dad as he climbed onto his bicycle. "I'll be fine, Pop. This is most likely an Olde-World wyrm. They're cold-blooded, so they are very slow once the sun goes down. I can outrun him any old day, should it come to that. Either way, I aim to find out just who he is, where he came from, and what his intentions are."

"Don't be out too late," his dad replied, but Kenny had already sped out of sight. Copyright © 2008 by Tony DiTerlizzi

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Introduction

Discussion Guide

Kenneth is a little rabbit with a very big problem. His two best friends are heading for a battle of legendary proportions — with each other! In one corner there's Grahame, a well-read and cultured dragon with sophisticated tastes and no stomach for battle. In the other, there's George, a retired knight and dragon slayer who would be content to spend the rest of his days in his bookshop with a pipe and a good book. But when the townsfolk in Kenneth's sleepy little village catch wind that there's a dragon running loose in the countryside and call George out of retirement, the stage is set. And it's up to Kenny to avert disaster.

New York Times Bestseller, Tony DiTerlizzi puts a fun-filled, thoroughly theatrical spin on Kenneth Grahame's classic tale of subterfuge and showmanship with this lighthearted romp of a retelling where its' up to one clever little rabbit to give his neighbors front row seats for one of the best-known battles in history: the showdown between St. George and the Dragon.

Tony Diterlizzi is one half of the #1 New York Times bestselling team that created The Spiderwick Chronicles as well as the author of the Zena Sutherland Award-winning, Young Hoosier Book Award-winning, and Buckeye Children's Book Award-winning His other titles include Jimmy Zangwow's Out-of-This-World Moon Pie Adventure, G is for One Gzonk!, and an adaptation of Mary Howitt's "The Spider and the Fly" that was awarded the Caldecott Honor. He lives in western Massachusetts with his wife, Angela, and their daughter.

Discussion Questions

1.) Are we meant to think that Kenny's solution to thebattle between St. George and Grahame is deceptive and tricky or a clever and courageous act to save his friends?

2.) Is Kenny's bookish knowledge better than his father's life experiences?

3.) Does Grahame's love of the theater have any influence on Kenny's plan to save his friends?

4.) Does the king know in advance that the battle is an act?

5.) How does the game of chess mimic life?

6.) How can Grahame be so sure "There will be no exterminations — imminent or otherwise?"

7.) How was Kenny inspired by his friends to solve the problem of fighting till death?

8.) Are we meant to think Grahame is a coward for refusing to fight St. George?

9.) Grahame described his fellow dragons as being "earnest." What does this mean? How did that apply to his life?

10.) Has Kenny or any of his friends shown any growth in their characters?

Literary Strands

1. Kenny & the Dragon is based upon the story The Reluctant Dragon written by Kenneth Grahame. Using a chart, compare Kenny to the Boy, Grahame to the Dragon, and George to St. George. How closely do the characters compare? What differences are there? If there are any differences, why do you think those differences were made?

2. What's in a name? The author makes homage to The Reluctant Dragon through the use of names. Discuss why the author uses the names Kenny, Grahame, and George.

3. Kenny & the Dragon is set in the time of knights, dragons, and armor. Go to the library and research the different types of armor worn by knights. Research coats of arms the knights had inscribed on their shields. What did the coat of arms mean? In battle how did knights recognize their enemies from their fellow knights? Have the students make up their own coat of arms.

4. Discuss the various themes from the book including friendship, tolerating differences, responsibility, honesty, pacifism, and knowledge.

a. Kenny believes in being honest by correcting the King's Royal Bestiary, yet he is willing to deceive the townspeople to save his best friends. Is it possible to be honest all the time? Are there times when it is appropriate to tell lies?

b. Responsibility occurs several times in the story. What exactly is responsibility? How does one become responsible? An example of teaching responsibility is Kenny's parents' insistence that he do his homework and wash the dishes before investigating the dragon. Grahame refuses to try to stop the fight and insists that Kenny handle the details of stopping the conflict. Is Grahame neglecting his responsibilities? Father was prepared to drag his family from their home due to the dragon's presence, yet he allows Kenny to investigate the dragon by himself. What is the parents' responsibility in caring for their children?

c. Preconceived differences can influence people's behavior. Kenny and his classmates have different opinions on school. How does this difference of opinion affect the way his classmates treat Kenny? Have the students discuss ways Kenny could be accepted by his classmates. Both St. George and Grahame have preconceived ideas about each other. How do these impressions cause conflicts in the story? How do they resolve their disagreements? What was the townspeople's preconceived impression of Grahame? Examine why the people felt Grahame was a danger to the town. Discuss how one is able to change the impression of others. Consider how difficult it may be to stand up for one's beliefs, especially when it is the opposite of what the majority believes.

d. Define pacifism. Explain Grahame's resistance to fighting to a conscientious objector.

e. Explore different types of knowledge. Kenny is book smart, he loves academia yet learns that there are different kinds of knowledge. At the end of the story Kenny finds out that his unschooled father is asctually very wise. His father is able to "read" the people, discover the "leader" of a crowd, and is able to "herd" them to do what he wants them to do. Does Kenny learn how to use this technique? If yes, then how? If no, then how could he have used this knowledge to his advantage?

f. Friendship is a strong theme in this story. Kenny is drawn into a dramatic conflict between his two best friends. Is it possible to stay friends with someone if you have different beliefs on some topics, or must friends always think alike?

5. Explore the titles mentioned in the book, including The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame, Midsummer Night's Dream and King Lear by Shakespeare, Grimm's Fairy Tales by the Brothers Grimm, and stories by Hans Christian Andersen. What elements found in these stories make them classics?

6. Have the students write an adaptation of Kenny & the Dragon as a play, then rewrite and make changes. Have the students design and make scenery, gather costumes and props, and arrange for sound effects for their play. Make a videotape of the play ahead of the performance so students may critique their play and make changes if necessary. Perform the play for an audience.

7. Introduce new vocabulary words in context to see if the students are able to determine their meaning.

8. Grahame the dragon loves poetry. Have the students write a poem describing the dragon.

9. Discuss ballads and their importance in history. Have the students write a ballad describing the battle between St. George and Grahame.

10. Have the students read passages out loud from the story, making sure they pronounce words correctly and use appropriate expression.

11. Discuss different cultural beliefs concerning dragons. For instance, in China the dragon is revered, while in England dragons are considered dangerous, evil, and pestilent. Consider different cultural beliefs, then discuss if dragons exist.

12. To enhance vocabulary retention make crossword puzzles, word searches, and word matches with definitions. After the students are familiar with the words, have them use the words in conversations to ensure they understand the correct use of the words.

13. Write a composition from Kenny's point of view describing what it feels like to know that one or both of his best friends could be seriously injured or killed if the fight between St. George and Grahame is allowed to happen.

14. Discuss the different character traits of Kenny, Grahame, and St. George. Chart the different traits for each character. Write the results of the discussion and have the students provide proof from the story to back up their claims.

15. Chess plays an important part in the story, as noted by the chessboard in George's bookshop. Research the history of chess. Understand the necessity of planning, organizing, and checking for problems, variables, and possibilities, then preparing for them, then discuss how Kenny's plan to save his friends used some of the same techniques as chess.

16. Try writing an introduction to the story that doesn't start at the beginning of the story. This is a technique for learning to organize events in sequential order.

17. Retell the story from the point of view of Porky's dad. Does the story change because of the person telling the story?

18. Take one of the illustrations in the story. Closely observe the illustration for one minute. Remove the illustration and try to recall as many details as possible. Share what is remembered with the class. Look again at the illustration for another minute then write a description of the illustration including as many details as possible.

19. To help the students understand point of view, have two students read out loud a section of the book which has a conversation. After they read, have the students describe the voice of the person they were reading. For example, was the person speaking in a happy, scared, confused, frustrated, or calm voice?20. Ask the students to come up with solutions to the problem of a dragon who has taken up residence near their town. Choose two students to debate what should be done about the dragon. Make sure they take opposing sides and can substantiate their reasons for their argument.

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Reading Group Guide

Discussion Guide

Kenneth is a little rabbit with a very big problem. His two best friends are heading for a battle of legendary proportions — with each other! In one corner there's Grahame, a well-read and cultured dragon with sophisticated tastes and no stomach for battle. In the other, there's George, a retired knight and dragon slayer who would be content to spend the rest of his days in his bookshop with a pipe and a good book. But when the townsfolk in Kenneth's sleepy little village catch wind that there's a dragon running loose in the countryside and call George out of retirement, the stage is set. And it's up to Kenny to avert disaster.

New York Times Bestseller, Tony DiTerlizzi puts a fun-filled, thoroughly theatrical spin on Kenneth Grahame's classic tale of subterfuge and showmanship with this lighthearted romp of a retelling where its' up to one clever little rabbit to give his neighbors front row seats for one of the best-known battles in history: the showdown between St. George and the Dragon.

Tony Diterlizzi is one half of the #1 New York Times bestselling team that created The Spiderwick Chronicles as well as the author of the Zena Sutherland Award-winning, Young Hoosier Book Award-winning, and Buckeye Children's Book Award-winning His other titles include Jimmy Zangwow's Out-of-This-World Moon Pie Adventure, G is for One Gzonk!, and an adaptation of Mary Howitt's "The Spider and the Fly" that was awarded the Caldecott Honor. He lives in western Massachusetts with his wife, Angela, and their daughter.

Discussion Questions

1.) Are we meant to think that Kenny's solution to thebattle between St. George and Grahame is deceptive and tricky or a clever and courageous act to save his friends?

2.) Is Kenny's bookish knowledge better than his father's life experiences?

3.) Does Grahame's love of the theater have any influence on Kenny's plan to save his friends?

4.) Does the king know in advance that the battle is an act?

5.) How does the game of chess mimic life?

6.) How can Grahame be so sure "There will be no exterminations — imminent or otherwise?"

7.) How was Kenny inspired by his friends to solve the problem of fighting till death?

8.) Are we meant to think Grahame is a coward for refusing to fight St. George?

9.) Grahame described his fellow dragons as being "earnest." What does this mean? How did that apply to his life?

10.) Has Kenny or any of his friends shown any growth in their characters?

Literary Strands

1. Kenny & the Dragon is based upon the story The Reluctant Dragon written by Kenneth Grahame. Using a chart, compare Kenny to the Boy, Grahame to the Dragon, and George to St. George. How closely do the characters compare? What differences are there? If there are any differences, why do you think those differences were made?

2. What's in a name? The author makes homage to The Reluctant Dragon through the use of names. Discuss why the author uses the names Kenny, Grahame, and George.

3. Kenny & the Dragon is set in the time of knights, dragons, and armor. Go to the library and research the different types of armor worn by knights. Research coats of arms the knights had inscribed on their shields. What did the coat of arms mean? In battle how did knights recognize their enemies from their fellow knights? Have the students make up their own coat of arms.

4. Discuss the various themes from the book including friendship, tolerating differences, responsibility, honesty, pacifism, and knowledge.

a. Kenny believes in being honest by correcting the King's Royal Bestiary, yet he is willing to deceive the townspeople to save his best friends. Is it possible to be honest all the time? Are there times when it is appropriate to tell lies?

b. Responsibility occurs several times in the story. What exactly is responsibility? How does one become responsible? An example of teaching responsibility is Kenny's parents' insistence that he do his homework and wash the dishes before investigating the dragon. Grahame refuses to try to stop the fight and insists that Kenny handle the details of stopping the conflict. Is Grahame neglecting his responsibilities? Father was prepared to drag his family from their home due to the dragon's presence, yet he allows Kenny to investigate the dragon by himself. What is the parents' responsibility in caring for their children?

c. Preconceived differences can influence people's behavior. Kenny and his classmates have different opinions on school. How does this difference of opinion affect the way his classmates treat Kenny? Have the students discuss ways Kenny could be accepted by his classmates. Both St. George and Grahame have preconceived ideas about each other. How do these impressions cause conflicts in the story? How do they resolve their disagreements? What was the townspeople's preconceived impression of Grahame? Examine why the people felt Grahame was a danger to the town. Discuss how one is able to change the impression of others. Consider how difficult it may be to stand up for one's beliefs, especially when it is the opposite of what the majority believes.

d. Define pacifism. Explain Grahame's resistance to fighting to a conscientious objector.

e. Explore different types of knowledge. Kenny is book smart, he loves academia yet learns that there are different kinds of knowledge. At the end of the story Kenny finds out that his unschooled father is asctually very wise. His father is able to "read" the people, discover the "leader" of a crowd, and is able to "herd" them to do what he wants them to do. Does Kenny learn how to use this technique? If yes, then how? If no, then how could he have used this knowledge to his advantage?

f. Friendship is a strong theme in this story. Kenny is drawn into a dramatic conflict between his two best friends. Is it possible to stay friends with someone if you have different beliefs on some topics, or must friends always think alike?

5. Explore the titles mentioned in the book, including The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame, Midsummer Night's Dream and King Lear by Shakespeare, Grimm's Fairy Tales by the Brothers Grimm, and stories by Hans Christian Andersen. What elements found in these stories make them classics?

6. Have the students write an adaptation of Kenny & the Dragon as a play, then rewrite and make changes. Have the students design and make scenery, gather costumes and props, and arrange for sound effects for their play. Make a videotape of the play ahead of the performance so students may critique their play and make changes if necessary. Perform the play for an audience.

7. Introduce new vocabulary words in context to see if the students are able to determine their meaning.

8. Grahame the dragon loves poetry. Have the students write a poem describing the dragon.

9. Discuss ballads and their importance in history. Have the students write a ballad describing the battle between St. George and Grahame.

10. Have the students read passages out loud from the story, making sure they pronounce words correctly and use appropriate expression.

11. Discuss different cultural beliefs concerning dragons. For instance, in China the dragon is revered, while in England dragons are considered dangerous, evil, and pestilent. Consider different cultural beliefs, then discuss if dragons exist.

12. To enhance vocabulary retention make crossword puzzles, word searches, and word matches with definitions. After the students are familiar with the words, have them use the words in conversations to ensure they understand the correct use of the words.

13. Write a composition from Kenny's point of view describing what it feels like to know that one or both of his best friends could be seriously injured or killed if the fight between St. George and Grahame is allowed to happen.

14. Discuss the different character traits of Kenny, Grahame, and St. George. Chart the different traits for each character. Write the results of the discussion and have the students provide proof from the story to back up their claims.

15. Chess plays an important part in the story, as noted by the chessboard in George's bookshop. Research the history of chess. Understand the necessity of planning, organizing, and checking for problems, variables, and possibilities, then preparing for them, then discuss how Kenny's plan to save his friends used some of the same techniques as chess.

16. Try writing an introduction to the story that doesn't start at the beginning of the story. This is a technique for learning to organize events in sequential order.

17. Retell the story from the point of view of Porky's dad. Does the story change because of the person telling the story?

18. Take one of the illustrations in the story. Closely observe the illustration for one minute. Remove the illustration and try to recall as many details as possible. Share what is remembered with the class. Look again at the illustration for another minute then write a description of the illustration including as many details as possible.

19. To help the students understand point of view, have two students read out loud a section of the book which has a conversation. After they read, have the students describe the voice of the person they were reading. For example, was the person speaking in a happy, scared, confused, frustrated, or calm voice?20. Ask the students to come up with solutions to the problem of a dragon who has taken up residence near their town. Choose two students to debate what should be done about the dragon. Make sure they take opposing sides and can substantiate their reasons for their argument.

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 10, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Great moral read aloud/read alone - we enjoyed Grahame & Kenny they are fun!

    This is a great read for children aged 5 and above. Read aloud is great (we did this) and then bought the Audio CD. Our children enjoyed the story - we read one half of the book the first day. Illustrations are wonderful - could be copied & colored for read aloud time. Intact family - Mother & Father (how unique!) that are married, happy and love their son!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 2, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Rebecca Wells for TeensReadToo.com

    Kenny Rabbit has always been a little different. While most in the tiny farming town of Roundbrook are, indeed, farmers, he is a perpetual bookworm and dreamer, always with one fanciful notion or another in his head. But now it appears that he may be just a little too different for the citizens of Roundbrook - after all, who on earth has a dragon for a best friend? <BR/><BR/>When the villagers learn of the dragon running loose over the countryside, they immediately designate it a scourge and mark it for imminent extermination, to be carried out by a dragon-slayer! Can Kenny figure out a way to make the villagers see the truth? Can he save his best friend? <BR/><BR/>KENNY & THE DRAGON is a touching tale of friendship that draws inventively from the classic story of St. George and the dragon. Kenny Rabbit is a protagonist you can't help but root for, and the illustrations in this book are simply adorable. While the prose in KENNY & THE DRAGON is a little cumbersome at times, it is not enough to detract from the charm of the tale, and the lessons taught are an effortless part of the story. <BR/><BR/>Children will be drawn in by the unique and lovable characters of Kenny Rabbit, Grahame the dragon, and George himself, and take away heartfelt lessons of courage, friendship, and diversity.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 1, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    I am a 6th grade student in Glendale,AZ.

    The story I am about to tell you is called Kenny and the Dragon. It is made by Tony Diterlizzi and illustrated by him too.there are three main characters in the book. The characters are Kenny,George and the dragon. Kenny is a rabbit and he likes to read books. George is an old hamster and he is one of Kenny's friend.At last but not least the dragon he's another friend of kenny also. Well,this is how the story goes kenny (rabbit) was reading a book borrowed from george.The next thing you known he sees his dad running torward the house. Then, kenny asked what happened and than he told him. So he went there and saw a gigantic dragon compared to him.After that happened he know he wasn't bad.Then,he goes to geroges book shop and retuns it. But, he doesn't know that he was a knight.the king called him and said to destroy the dragon. That's when the fight happened but, they became friends. They still had to get the crowd away.This books' setting was the downtown and the time was present. this is mostly about the guys best friend fighting. I think this book was ok because there wasn't that much action. I could connect to the world by I had happened to me that i have seen things just like in the book. another one is i had a friend fight with my other friend.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 12, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 27, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews

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