The Loathsome Dragon

Overview

A lovely princess, a brave prince, a wicked stepmother, evil enchantments, magic rowan wood, and an immense, scaly dragon. . . . Favorite fairytale elements sparkle in The Loathsome Dragon, a traditional English tale. Majestic, romantic paintings by two-time Caldecott medalist David Wiesner display the remarkable artistry and dizzying perspectives his work is known for.

Now available once again—with several new illustrations, revised text, and...

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Overview

A lovely princess, a brave prince, a wicked stepmother, evil enchantments, magic rowan wood, and an immense, scaly dragon. . . . Favorite fairytale elements sparkle in The Loathsome Dragon, a traditional English tale. Majestic, romantic paintings by two-time Caldecott medalist David Wiesner display the remarkable artistry and dizzying perspectives his work is known for.

Now available once again—with several new illustrations, revised text, and a brief source note—this picture-book classic will delight David Wiesner’s many fans, and win him a generation of new ones.

A wicked queen casts a spell over her beautiful stepdaughter, turning her into a loathsome dragon until such time as her wandering brother shall return and kiss her three times.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This tale of enchantment and familial devotion is the retelling of a lesser known English fairy tale. Bamborough Castle is the home of a widowed Kking and his lovely daughter Margaret and son Childe Wynde. The King falls in love with a beautiful but wicked enchantress who, in a jealous rage, turns the Pprincess into a dragon. The story of Childe Wynde's quest to free his sister casts a spell on readers. The traditional telling is enhanced by Wiesner's classic watercolors. Few artists depict the medieval world or labyrinthine castles, venomous enchantresses and fair damsels as well; he is attentive to detail, with richly brocaded costumery of the period and architecturally correct renderings of castles and their interiors. The subtle palette of greens, grays and blues achieves a peaceful tonality. Ages 5-9. (October)
Publishers Weekly
Wiesner (Tuesday) and Kahng, his wife, give a straight account of a British fairytale and, unfortunately, Wiesner's illustrations show few of the high jinks and visual jests that characterize his previous work. The title dragon is actually the Princess Margaret, spellbound by her jealous stepmother. The king's new wife turns out to be an enchantress who summons hollow-eyed wraiths from the castle dungeon ("Nine times nine she passed her arms before herself, and three times three she chanted her evil spell"). The terrorized subjects consult a wizard, who explains that only Margaret's brother can return her to her human form. When the prince journeys back by sea, he is thwarted by the dragon ("This beast cannot be Margaret... for she would never oppose me so"), and is surprised to hear the creature speak in his sister's voice ("Oh, quit your sword, forget your fear/ And give me kisses three,/ For though I am a loathsome beast,/ No harm I'll do to thee"). Wiesner's pastel-tinted paintings dutifully provide the full panoply of fairytale props (knightly equipage, castle turrets with flying banners), but only in two spreads does the artist's signature wizardry emerge: castle maids swoon in comic horror when they enter Margaret's room to discover yards of the serpentine dragon; and, later, the snowy-haired wizard conjures his alchemical texts, which hang before him in mid-air, while a glowing image of the princess trapped within the dragon's coils appears in their midst. For a book that relies on magic, sadly, there's very little here. Ages 5-8. (Apr.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-Wiesner and Kahng's 1987 retelling of a retelling of an English folktale based on an 18th-century ballad has been revised with a briefer, more accessible text, some reworked illustrations, a new cover, and an added source note. With her brother Richard (Childe Wynd in the earlier version) gone to see the world, Princess Margaret is left to console her widowed father until his remarriage to a beautiful enchantress. Consumed by jealousy, the new queen turns Margaret into a Loathsome Dragon that terrorizes the kingdom. With advice from a mighty wizard, the people keep the dragon's hunger under control and send a message to Prince Richard to return as only he can break the spell. Despite the queen's attempt to foil this plan, Richard manages to reverse the enchantment, freeing Margaret and turning the queen into a Loathsome Toad by means of a magic rowan twig. The artwork in this version is more vivid, and the softly colored and patterned frames have been replaced with white borders that make the pictures less remote. As in the original, the dragon seems intentionally benign rather than loathsome, suggesting the trapped princess within. The uncomplicated telling and appealing double-page paintings make this a good introduction to the folk genre.-Marie Orlando, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 6 Jealous of her lovely step daughter, the new Queen of Bambor ough Castle changes Margaret into a loathsome dragon until Childe Wynd, her brother who is traveling the world, returns and kisses her three times. Thus begins this ``little known English fairy tale.'' While the retelling is not distin guished, it follows traditional patterns and rhythms and is written in a form simple enough for young children to fol low and enjoy. The illustrations are del icate, misty, and enchanting, extending and harmonizing with the traditional motifs of this fairy tale. The dragon is pictured with softly rounded contours so that the imagination can believe that Princess Margaret lies beneath its green scales and sad blue eyes. The portrait of the queen, shriveled into a Loath some Toad, with robes and full head of red hair still flowing about her, will bring delight to justice-minded chil dren. This fairy tale picture book will be welcomed by storytellers and by those who enjoy reading aloud and sharing handsome illustrations with young listeners. Both the quality of the illustrations and the fact that this tale will be new to most readers make The Loathsome Dragon a good addition to any collection of ``retold'' folktales. Constance A. Mellon, Department of Library & Information Studies, East Carolina University, Greenville, N.C.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399214073
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 10/23/1987
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 5 - 9 Years
  • Product dimensions: 11.10 (w) x 8.80 (h) x 0.36 (d)

Meet the Author

David Wiesner
David Wiesner's interest in visual storytelling dates back to high school days when he made silent movies and drew wordless comic books. Born and raised in Bridgewater, New Jersey, he graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design with a BFA in Illustration. While a student, he created a painting nine feet long, which he now recognizes as the genesis of Free Fall, his first book of his own authorship, for which he was awarded a Caldecott Honor Medal in 1989. David won his first Caldecott Medal in 1992 for Tuesday, and he has gone on to win twice more: in 2002 for The Three Pigs and in 2007 for Flotsam. He is only the second person in the award's history to win the Caldecott Medal three times. David and his wife, Kim Kahng, and their two children live near Philadelphia, where he devotes full time to illustration and she pursues her career as a surgeon.
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    1. Hometown:
      Outside Philadelphia, P.A.
    1. Date of Birth:
      February 5, 1956
    2. Place of Birth:
      Bridgewater, NJ
    1. Education:
      Rhode Island School of Design -- BFA in Illustration.
    2. Website:

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