It’s always fun to read about a rascally creature who does terrible things. In Dragon Was Terrible, Kelly DiPucchio’s frank, conversational telling and Greg Pizzoli’s bright, clear illustrations create an instantly accessible world. The reader is immediately drawn in, commiserating with the narrator and the frustrated villagers and freely judging that terrible Dragon, making it a really fun read aloud.
Dragon really does behave badly. He picks on creatures smaller than himself, he ruins nice things. From throwing sand to tagging the castle wall, he tends to be stereotypical in his terror. Every kid who reads this book will have experienced the act or aftermath (and, at some point or another, will have been at least an occasional perpetrator of) Dragon’s misdeeds. The strongest and loudest and maddest knights and villagers are no match for this jerk, but a clever boy tames the beast without a single blow. Of course, kids love a young hero, but for grown-ups, there is real satisfaction in seeing this battle of wits in which the hero’s weapons are words (he wins by writing a book!) and insight (a book that appeals to Dragon’s powerful self-image).
Sometimes, the only way to change a big orange beast is to trick him. Though I don’t really believe that all similarly hued and equally terrible creatures (I’m talking about the biggest, orange bully-elect of them all, here) could be so easily lured with good books and friendship, it’s nice, at least, to have a happy ending to read to my kid.
Dragon Was Terrible
by Kelly DiPucchio
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
2016, 40 pages, 8.1 x 10.2 inches, Hardcover