Release date: Paperback edition 2009
Target audience: 7+
UK Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Kenny and the Dragon is a short fantasy novel reworking the legend of Saint George and the Dragon.
Kenny is a young rabbit who loves reading stories and studying natural history. He is an intelligent boy and finds it hard to fit in at school. Kenny’s dad discovers that a dragon has taken up residence on their land. Terrified, he tells his family that they need to move home as soon as possible. But Kenny being a brave and inquisitive little rabbit goes armed with the King’s Bestiary to meet the dragon.
Grahame is unlike any dragon Kenny has ever read about. He has never killed another creature and has no intention of doing so. He is a lover of words and plays and has a flamboyant air about him. Kenny and Grahame become friends and enjoy reading together. But when the townsfolk discover they have a dragon in their midst, they want him slain. Kenny visits George at the bookshop to ask for his help but what he discovers threatens to make enemies of his two best friends.
This is a sweet but bizarre little book. The story seems to me to fit a 7+ audience but the word level is more akin to a 9+ novel. Words such as: impudent, smorgasbord and uncultivated. Also, there are many references to famous literary works which I think younger children will be unfamiliar with – King Lear for instance. This leaves me in a quandary: Is the book meant to be read by adults to children? Is that why there are jokes and references that adults will enjoy but that most children won’t understand? Or is it a short book for older readers? I think it’s the former. It mentions Wind in the Willows and it seems like a contemporary twist on that type of animal tale. I believe that this book is a homage from Tony DiTerlizzi to Kenneth Grahame as the character names are a reference to him.
Kenny and the Dragon is certainly charming. The illustrations are enchanting and entirely adorable. The characters’ are beautifully drawn and their personalities leap off the page. If you wanted a short story to read to a class about Saint George and Dragon, this novel would fit perfectly. It is also a great way to discuss friendships with primary age children too – especially if one child is feeling left out after their best friend has made a new friend. Any child who loves stories of knights, castles and fairy tales will love this book.
Source: Borrowed from the School Library.