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The Reluctant Dragon
     

The Reluctant Dragon

by Robert D. San Souci (Retold by), John Segal (Illustrator)
 

San Souci and Segal pair up in this clever, funny retelling of Kenneth Grahame's THE RELUCTANT DRAGON which includes miniature illustrations throughout.

When Jack's father discovers a fire-breathing dragon living close to home, Jack tells everyone not to worry -- he has read a lot about dragons. The next day, Jack meets him and learns that he is poet who would

Overview

San Souci and Segal pair up in this clever, funny retelling of Kenneth Grahame's THE RELUCTANT DRAGON which includes miniature illustrations throughout.

When Jack's father discovers a fire-breathing dragon living close to home, Jack tells everyone not to worry -- he has read a lot about dragons. The next day, Jack meets him and learns that he is poet who would rather write than fight knights and breathe fire. Soon Jack and the dragon are sharing poetry and singing songs, but Jack can't keep him a secret for long. One day, Saint George rides into town to slay the beast, but the dragon refuses to take part in something so uncivilized. So with the help of Jack, they agree to stage a mock battle which turns out to be a hit.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
For this elegantly designed volume, San Souci (The Talking Eggs) breathes new life into the sword-and-scales genre with a snappy adaptation of Kenneth Grahame's 1898 short story. The book stars a most unusual dragon who prefers poetry, pacifism and singalongs to murderous pillaging and destruction ("I'm too lazy to make enemies"). Jack, a shepherd's son, befriends the dragon, but his fellow villagers see the fiery beast as "an enemy of the human race" and call in Saint George. Smart-thinking Jack convinces George to talk to his friend, and together they concoct a scheme to stage a battle so the dragon can be saved. The faux fight is deliciously scary ("The dragon, enjoying the drama, reared and roared and rampaged"), but young fantasy fans will enjoy both the ruse and the happily-ever-after resolution. Matching the text's dynamism, Segal's (The Musicians of Bremen) illustrations seem a happy cross between medieval manuscripts and comic book panels. Narrow rules frame each page, accentuating the oversize vertical format, while Segal's small, cartoon-like illustrations captioned with phrases from the text float in a sizable white background. The less-is-more sensibility of the design offsets the somewhat insistent message about looking beyond appearances and overcoming prejudice. San Souci's fluid storytelling gives the story a modern feel, and Jack's peaceful problem-solving sets a winning example. Ages 5-9. (Apr.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Gr 3-5-This now-classic tale was originally published in 1898 as part of Kenneth Grahame's semiautobiographical short story collection, "Dream Days." A shepherd discovers a dragon living in a cave. His son knows from his reading of natural history and fairy tales that some dragons are reasonable and nonthreatening. He approaches the creature, who proves to be a gentle, noncombative sort. The villagers, however, see him as a menace, and St. George is sent for. The boy is able to convince him that this is a good dragon, and the three devise a plan that will give everyone a fine show and allow the dragon to stay on in the village, writing poetry and singing. San Souci's abridgment has the usual gains and losses of such a process. Much of Grahame's wit and unique style have gone by the wayside, but the text is more accessible to a modern audience. The message of compassion, loyalty, and friendship still shines through. Segal's pastel illustrations, frequently set in miniature boxes in a vertical line, sometimes ignore descriptions as provided by the text. The dragon has "blue scales on top and green below." Segal's dragon is green on top, yellow below and without a scale to be seen. The pictures are captioned with an odd mix of print and script that will be difficult for children to decipher. Libraries owning the original text with illustrations by either Ernest H. Shepard or Michael Hague may consider this version an additional purchase.-Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Widely spaced lines of elegant type evoke the witty tone of Grahame's classic, unlike either this stripped-down version of the text, or the accompanying small, childlike watercolors. (Why use teeny pictures in a really oversized format?) The reteller doesn't edit out any of the tale's incidents, though he has cut most of the dialogue and scene-setting descriptions, as well as some minor characters (also adding a touch of his own, by naming the boy "Jack"). The result is a story that moves along briskly, but at the expense of its literary texture; Jack's mother barely has a speaking part, and the dragon's generally peaceful nature is no longer mixed with that comically broad streak of outright laziness. Similarly, Segal's tiny, stiffly gesticulating figures lend the episode a theatrical air, but are more typecast than the complex characters in Shepard's deftly sophisticated drawings. The story's theme of finding alternatives to violence always merits revisiting, but the original, however wordy it may seem by current standards, still makes a far richer reading experience. (Picture book. 7-9)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780439455817
Publisher:
Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
02/25/2004
Edition description:
Adaptation
Pages:
39
Product dimensions:
8.80(w) x 12.28(h) x 0.39(d)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

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