Tony DiTerlizzi, of Spiderwick Chronicles fame, has put out a fantastic new book for young readers called Kenny & the Dragon. I was first drawn to the book by the cover, which is adorable, and then when I saw the author, I figured I had to read it.
Kenny, a little rabbit, becomes friends with a dragon who has moved into the cave up the hill. He is put in a bind though, when the town's folk discover the dragon and entice Kenny's good friend George (the owner of a book store, oh it makes my heart beat), to come out of retirement and slay the "evil dragon". Oh what is to be done?
This is the plot of Kenneth Grahame's famous Reluctant Dragon, a short story that was made extra popular by a Disney short some time ago. I confess that I read Kenny & the Dragon without ever having heard of Grahame's tale, or the Disney short. Initially I thought Tony DiTerlizzi had just come up with a really cute idea, a dragon that doesn't want to fight, how sweet! This morning, however I had to joy of listening to Kenneth Grahame's version in it's entirety online here. I got about an hour of knitting in and felt I was doing something productive, instead of listening to children's stories that I am much to old for. This blog is a great excuse to read and listen to things I am much to old for. I have not, however, seen the Disney short, and at this moment, it is not on my netflix queue (you have to love netflix for re-teaching Americans this long forgotten word for a line of waiting).
Tony DiTerlizzi's version closely follows the Grahame original, but I like DiTerlizzi's story better. Kenny (or "the boy" according to Grahame) is more fleshed out and significantly less whiny. And George, the bookstore owner (or Saint according to Grahame), is simply wonderful. The Dragons seem identical.
Kenny & the Dragon is essentially an early chapter book, with short chapters and lots of illustrations. Perfect for young readers or those unexposed children who find big books intimidating; I recommend it to any child between the ages of 5 and 10 (recognizing that the younger ages would need assistance with the reading).