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Great Illustrated Books

King Jack and the Dragon

By Peter Bently, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury

Dial, 2011
Pages : 32
Suggested Ages: 3-6
ISBN: 9780803736986

What Kiddo doesn't like a little make-believe, a bit of suspense, and a touch of adventure? Throw in a dragon, a sword and a castle, and it is a no-brainer. This is the perfect book to hook a young boy and introduce him to the power of his imagination and books.

King Jack and the Dragon is a wonderful rhyming story about a boy whose mettle as a knight is tested one evening after the Giants come to take his buddies Zack and Casper home. Jack is left to defend the castle (made of a few bricks) with nothing but his sword (cardboard), and his nerves of steel. He is put to the test, when the pretend dragon is replaced with real owl hoots, frog croaks, and the rustling of a mouse all hidden as the evening veil of darkness approaches. When Jack's Giants (parents) finally come to collect him he feels valiant for having fended off all the threatening predators, and grateful that the challenge is over. Even the most valiant knights need their rest.

Helen Oxenbury's engaging illustrations range from sparse to elaborate, but all have a timeless feel. These charming images and the entertaining story are reminiscent of Where the Wild Things Are. It is easy to imagine this book becoming a family favorite as it has that same ability to inspire imagination. It could be a useful tool to use to spark a creative activity to keep antsy boys busy this winter. Whether they build a fort of pillows or make a ship out of the living room couch, they will likely be spurred to action after reading this exciting tale. The rhyming prose is fun to read out loud, and the minimal text will make it a great book to take turns reading as your kiddo develops his reading skills. It's a book both of you – Giant and child – will enjoy reading again and again.

Reviewed by : MES

Themes : ADVENTURE. FANTASY. KINGS. STORIES IN RHYME.

If you love this book, then try:

Chabon, Michael and Jake Parker. The Astonishing Secret of Awesome Man. Balzer + Bray, 2011.


Scieszka, Jon and Lane Smith. The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales. Viking, 1992.


Rash, Andy. Are You a Horse? Arthur A. Levine Books, 2009.


Long, Melinda and David Shannon. How I Became a Pirate. Harcourt, Inc., 2003.


Rosenthal, Eileen. I Must Have Bobo! Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2011.

Critics have said

It's an enchanting tribute to both full-throttle pretend play and the reassurance of a parent's embrace.
Publishers Weekly