cover image Dragon Was Terrible

Dragon Was Terrible

Kelly DiPucchio, illus. by Greg Pizzoli. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-374-30049-4

There’s a dragon in the kingdom, and he’s a downright brat, pantsing palace guards, spitting on cupcakes, and even scribbling in books. As Dragon’s behavior becomes increasing egregious—he burps in church and chases after fuzzy yellow ducklings—nobody can stop him until a clever boy comes along with a powerful tool: a gripping storybook (featuring a brave dragon and a “terrible knight,” naturally). In naive, flattened cartons, Pizzoli (Templeton Gets His Wish) mixes modern and medieval with aplomb as Dragon TP’s a castle and spray paints “Dragon was here” on a wall underneath a posted notice from the king promising a reward to whomever stops Dragon (“It shall be a nice gift. Ye shall like it”). These pictures, combined with DiPucchio’s (Everyone Loves Bacon) clearly disapproving narrator (“Honestly, that’s terrible and rude,” she sniffs during the church burp scene) make Dragon’s transgressions all the funnier. The only downside may be the ending, which—though happy in a fairy tale sense—makes the taming of the wonderfully incorrigible antagonist feel a little, well, tame. Ages 4–7. Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Aug.)