Flight of the Last Dragon

Robert Burleigh, Author, Mary GrandPre, Illustrator
Robert Burleigh, illus. by Mary GrandPré. Philomel, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-399-25200-6
Reviewed on: 09/03/2012
Release date: 10/11/2012
Show other formats
Burleigh and GrandPré blend the ancient and the contemporary in this bittersweet portrait of the former king of the dragons, who now hides alone in the sewers of a city: “Weak, alone,/ He wades in the slime,/ Lost in dreams/ Of a long-ago time.” Burleigh’s rhymed four-line stanzas are pitch-perfect and filled with intriguing images; remembering a time when dragons “breathed hot flames/ In jewel-filled caves,” Ultimon says, “And I am left/ With thoughts that pass/ Like grains of sand/ In an hourglass.” GrandPré’s illustrations offer a painful contrast between the glories of dragons past and Ultimon’s current enfeebled state, with tattered wings, a walking stick, and a broken horn. Lest Ultimon’s story gets too depressing, Burleigh and GrandPré conspire to create a triumphant finale in which Ultimon is transformed into a glittering, golden dragon—his wings resembling flames more than feathers—as he finds the strength to fly one last time and gains a permanent home in the sky; an afterword gives details about the constellation Draco. A melancholy but moving story of finding one’s way home after the world has changed. Ages 3–7. (Oct.)