Author/Illustrator: Tony DiTerlizzi
My rating: 5 of 5
Young Kenny Rabbit has never quite fit in in his rural farming community, what with his passion for reading–especially fantasy and books about natural history. So he’s thrilled to make a new friend, although said friend is not exactly who you’d expect a young rabbit to be befriending: a dragon, in fact. But then, Grahame isn’t like the dragons Kenny’s always read about in his stories, vicious creatures going about breathing fire, destroying crops, eating damsels in distress, and fighting valorous knights. Grahame is a gentle, well-read creature who prefers picnics over battles, Shakespeare over carnage, and conversation over destruction. All seems well as Grahame weaves his life into that of the Rabbit family in a charming, friendly sort of way . . . until the township gets word that there’s a dragon about. They might not be quite so understanding as Kenny’s family were about Grahame’s being, well, unusual for a dragon.
I can’t believe I waited this long to read Kenny & the Dragon; it’s fantastic! The writing style is absolutely charming, and the story is as well. The allusions to Kenneth Grahame’s stories, both The Wind in the Willows and The Reluctant Dragon, are frequent and obvious, but in a way that’s appealing rather than annoying. I have hopes that this book will point many children back to those older stories, as they are both excellent. DiTerlizzi’s tone, characters, pacing, and inclusion of details is spot-on throughout, making this an enjoyable and seamless read. And while this story is totally appropriate for even younger children–it’s easily understood and there’s nothing too scary–it’s educated and suspenseful enough to keep older readers engaged as well. I would definitely say this is an all-ages read; maybe even one that would be good for family read-aloud time. In addition the the excellent storytelling, DiTerlizzi’s illustrations are also charming, full of character and expression. Kenny & the Dragon comes with high recommendations; definitely go check it out!