Wednesday, September 14, 2011
King Jack and the Dragon
The book my son ultimately chose for his birthday was King Jack and the Dragon - written by Peter Bently and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury. This is a fantastic book. It tells the story of three boys -"King" Jack, Zack and Caspar - who build a castle to prepare for battle against an army the dragons. It has a light rhyme and celebrates the best of childhood - imagination. With nothing more than a cardboard box, sheets, sticks, a trash bag and some old broken bricks, the boys create another world of fun in their backyard.
The story is simple and well written. The light rhyme gives it a great rhythm, but it is not overly rhymed. And Helen Oxenbury's illustrations are - of course - brilliant. She alters between black and white pencil drawings and watercolor paintings. The illustrations are very reminiscent of Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are in that when the boys move into full dragon fighting mode, the pictures are in full color and fill the two-page spread. Whereas before and after they move completely into their imaginations, the drawings move between the black and white drawings and color paintings and never fill the page.
This book is a celebration of the simple joys of childhood. And while it seems to paint scenes from a bygone era of childhood, it serves also as a how-to book for children - step-by-step instructions on how to build a fort and enjoy a technology free, imagination filled day of fun.
This is one of my favorite books I have seen this year and my son - who has for some time referred to himself as "Dragon Man" - loves it as well.