Wednesday, June 13, 2012


    Danny Dragonbreath is, you guessed it, a dragon. Not a komodo dragon like Big Eddy, the bully. He's a real dragon, like the stuff of legends. But real dragons breathe fire. And Danny hasn't quite mastered that. In fact, Danny is a kid who has quite a bit left to master. His at the last minute written report on the ocean received a grade of F and his potato salad tried to stab him with a fork. If it weren't for the encouragement of his parents and best friend, Wendell (an iguana), he might just give up hope.
    Written as half comic strip and half straight prose, Dragonbreath is a funny enough little story, though that's about as much as I can say for it. The comic strip bits are sort of like a less funny Calvin & Hobbes and the undersea adventure that ends up being most of the story (Danny goes to visit his cousin Edward, a sea monster, when he's ordered to rewrite his report on the ocean) is like an educational episode of SpongeBob Squarepants.
    Harrison preferred the comic book parts of the book, as did I. The written parts feel like they were written by someone Harrison's age and not just for someone Harrison's age. Ursula Vernon would be better off writing a straight up Dragonbreath comic book or even comic strip. In fact, the jokes and storyline read very much like a weekly comic strip.
    Harrison's favorite character was the fun-loving and goofy Danny, while I thought the cautious and nerdy sidekick, Wendell, to be more interesting. Unfortunately, there's not enough done with either character, and the story has less plot development than most picture books. Still, it's a harmless bit of fun and an easy read for kids looking for something light. And a living potato salad is kind of funny, though not as funny as when Calvin makes his oatmeal into a monster. 
    Dragonbreath is the first in a series and a good way for early readers to get engaged with reading. Harrison thought it was kind of funny and finished it in about half an hour. I thought it was less funny and finished it in about 10 minutes. So, for the amount of effort it takes, the payoff is acceptable. Still, you get what you pay for. This one didn't cost us much in the way if effort and didn't get us much in the way of enjoyment. Neither Harrison nor I are particularly interested in reading further in this series ("Are you sure? I might want to read further in the series." says Harrison, looking over my shoulder as I write), but both of us "liked it pretty much" as Harrison says. If "liked it pretty much" seems like a less than thrilling endorsement, you're getting the picture. Your kid will like it, but probably not love it. They certainly won't remember it fondly years from now. But then, not every book needs to be that kind of memorable. Some books are just there to be enjoyed in the moment and then we move on to what's next. In this case, what's next is probably Shakespeare's Secret, a book Harrison and I are both enjoying far more.

No comments:

Post a Comment