King Jack and the Dragon

Overview

A lively playtime adventure that becomes a warm and cozy bedtime bookperfect for every little knight-in-training. From the illustrator of the award-winning We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.
 
Night is falling and playtime is nearly over. But brave King Jack and his faithful knights Zak and Caspar are still protecting their castle fort from fierce dragons and terrible beasts. This captivating, joyful make-believe adventure is the perfect bedtime...

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Overview

A lively playtime adventure that becomes a warm and cozy bedtime bookperfect for every little knight-in-training. From the illustrator of the award-winning We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.
 
Night is falling and playtime is nearly over. But brave King Jack and his faithful knights Zak and Caspar are still protecting their castle fort from fierce dragons and terrible beasts. This captivating, joyful make-believe adventure is the perfect bedtime story for brave children everywhere. Fans of Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site and Dinosaur Roar will especially enjoy this imaginative tale.

An ALA Notable Book
Bank Street Book Committee Best Children’s Books of the Year
Kate Greenaway Award

“It’s an enchanting tribute to both full-throttle pretend play and the reassurance of a parent’s embrace.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
 
“A tale of make-believe that children will delight in hearing again and again.”—School Library Journal (starred review)
 
“Sure to be read aloud again and again, this testament to imaginative play exudes warmth.”—Kirkus Reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Fort making is one of the great enterprises of childhood, but just in case the art has been lost to some, Bently (The Great Dog Bottom Swap) and Oxenbury (There's Going to Be a Baby) open their felicitous collaboration with what is essentially an illustrated instruction manual: "A big cardboard box,/ an old sheet and some sticks,/ a couple of trash bags,/ a few broken bricks,/ a fine royal throne/ from a ragged old quilt,/ a drawbridge, a flag—/ and the castle was built." Declaring himself king, Jack leads his friends Zack and Caspar in defending the fort against a menagerie of imaginary creatures. But when Jack's knights are carried off by giants (their parents), Jack finds that a solo defense of the fort is no picnic: "He wished he was anything else but a king." Bently's verse never misses a beat, and Oxenbury shifts between monochromatic, engraving-like drawings and pale watercolors; the images feel as if they were drawn from a classic fairy tale book and contemporary life simultaneously. It's an enchanting tribute to both full-throttle pretend play and the reassurance of a parent's embrace. Ages 3–5. (Aug.)
The New York Times
“At once contemporary and classic.”
The Wall Street Journal
“Though the characters are wholly modern, there is a timelessness to the cycle of excitement, apprehension and parental comfort that should give this lovely book a long stay on the nursery shelf.”
Booklist
“The rhyming verse, large trim size, and detailed illustrations…make this a suitable story for group sharing, while the sweet, intimate tone will make it a family favorite.”
Horn Book
“From this simple premise of imaginative play, Bently and Oxenbury create a classically sweet picture book.”
The Washington Post
“This one is sure to become a full-on family favorite at bedtime.”
The Sacramento Bee
“Altogether, ‘King Jack’ is just about perfect.”
Children's Literature - Uma Krishnaswami
Brave King Jack and his band of knights have a castle to defend in this rhyming picture book depicting a reluctant end to its young hero's busy day of play. The book opens with Jack and his friends building a castle, something that young readers might find themselves recognizing or emulating. The text, written in unbroken rhythm, consistently employs the anapests of nursery rhyme convention, with the exception of a single break in one of the spreads advancing the battle against the dragons and other beasts. As each of his playmates goes home, King Jack faces darkness and fear. Surprisingly, Oxenbury's illustrations appear to be speaking to Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are. This frank evocation in color, hatched lines, and gestures might enchant some readers and give others pause. It certainly begs the question of why this particular artistic choice was made. This is a very different book, after all, from Sendak's tour de force. The interplay of text and image here leaves far less to the imagination. Jack's is a kinder world, in which even danger is shown with a sort of structural promise of safety and comfort. After all, the pattern of three must hold, given two sequences in which adults have already arrived to take children home. Unlike Sendak, Bently and Oxenbury put the grownups on the page, and in the end, they are the ones who have agency. Reviewer: Uma Krishnaswami
School Library Journal
PreS-K—"Jack, Zack, and Casper were making a den—a mighty great fort for King Jack and his men." So begins this delicious tale of three adventurous youngsters whose day is filled with constructing a castle (construction box, trash bags, and a ragged quilt) and battling dragons and beasts in an imaginary forest. When evening arrives, Zack and Casper are scooped up seemingly by giants (their parents) and taken home. Alone, Jack at first braves the quivering trees and sounds of scampering animals until a four-footed "SOMETHING" looms out of the night. But no, it is his parents, and Jack, riding home on his father's shoulders, claims, "I knew you weren't really a dragon." Soft colors and the fanciful expressions on the various creatures offset any scare youngsters might find in the story, and the children's beguiling faces are warm and friendly. A balance of brown-toned crosshatched drawings and full-color artwork adds to the easy flow of the action. A tale of make-believe that children will delight in hearing again and again.—Barbara Elleman, Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, Amherst, MA
Kristi Jemtegaard
Peter Bently's perfectly cadenced rhymes skip blithely from page to page, begging to be read aloud, while Helen Oxenbury's illustrations…are generously detailed and gracefully expressive delights…This one is sure to become a full-on family favorite at bedtime. Prepare for repeated readings.
—The Washington Post
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803736986
  • Publisher: Dial
  • Publication date: 8/18/2011
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 328,235
  • Age range: 3 - 5 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.24 (w) x 11.48 (h) x 0.38 (d)

Meet the Author

Peter Bently lives in Devon, England, with his wife and their two children.

Helen Oxenbury, the New York Times bestselling illustrator of Ten Little Fingers, Ten Little Toes and We're Going on a Bear Hunt, lives with her husband, the illustrator John Burningham, in North London, England.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 12, 2011

    Highly Recommended - you should check this one out!

    My 5 yr old (also named Jack) LOVES this story. Part of the love of this book is that his name is the main character's name, but the illustrations are wonderful as well. The story is a nice end of day tale, and I don't grow tired of reading it to him. He can read most of it himself as well and we both truly enjoy this book. Hats off to Peter Bentley and Helen Oxenbury for this winner!

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