This story was supposed to be about a dragon who captures a princess and is fought by a knight, who then rescues the princess. But this dragon is sick of being the villain. Wanting to be a hero instead, he sets off to find some characters in distress. He finds the Gingerbread Man, the Three Pigs, Goldilocks, Little Red Riding Hood, and many other fairy tale characters, all of whom need saving at one point of their story. The only problem is, there are no dragons in their stories. The dragon feels dejected until he sees a boy climbing a bean stalk. This boy might just need saving from the giant. However, the giant smells the dragon instead of the boy and is about to eat the dragon, when the giant sneezes. The giant’s sneeze is so big he blows out the sun. Now all the characters really need a hero in their story, for a job only a dragon can do.
This is a wonderful story full of familiar characters and settings for the younger reader. The collaboration with visual and verbal texts is brilliant. Aspects in the visuals hint at what might happen on the next page, making sure the story flows well while keeping the audience’s attention. The use of colour and direction are also effective in conveying the story.
There are various postmodern aspects in this picture book, including the use of non-traditional plot, character and setting, subverting the traditional role of the dragon in fairy tales. Different illustrative styles are used when, at times, cartoon techniques are employed to convey meaning visually. A mix of fonts are also used. The two most obvious tendencies are what the book is essentially based on, and they are intertextuality and self-referentiality. These are the essence of the book and are used to maximum benefit. The placement of a real book at the beginning and the end add a metafictional aspect, allowing this book to join the ranks of many well-known picture books with postmodern tendencies and fractured fairy tales. It is clever and playful.
This wonderful picture book would suit many libraries and private collections of all ages. Public libraries should stock it in the multiples, and school and pre-school libraries should definitely not be without it. It would add fun to a story time session, inviting audience involvement. This is an absolute must have!
Many thanks to Bloomsbury for supplying this book for review.