Most stories about dragons have the dragon capturing a princess and fighting the brave knight who comes to save her. But that’s not what this story is about because the dragon has gone off in a huff in search of a story where he is the hero not the villain.
But each time he enters a story – The Gingerbread Man, The Three Little Pigs, Goldilocks, Hansel and Gretel, Little Red riding Hood – he is told the same thing. “No! There are no dragons in this story!”
And then he spies a boy climbing a beanstalk. But just as Jack tells him the same thing, the giant captures the dragon and suddenly the dragon doesn’t want to be in the story! But just as he seems doomed, the giant sneezes and blows out the sun… Can the dragon be a hero at last?
This is a charming, colorful romp through a lot of childhood favourites that young children will delight in recalling and discussing the various forms the villain takes if it is not a dragon. They will connect with characters and settings they know while the left-to-right direction of print is emphasised with the vivid and clever illustrations. Older children can venture down the path of learning about stereotypes and how preconceived notions can lead to unfounded expectations, perhaps even starting to gather a collection of stories where the stereotype is challenged and then starting to examine their own prejudices.
Quality stories always have lots of layers to suit lots of readers – this is one of those.
Princess Cassandra had everything she could possibly want – hundreds of dresses, thousands of books and servants to bring her anything she wanted. She should have been the happiest princess in the world.
But there was one thing she didn’t have – she was lonely playing by herself and desperately wanted a best friend. In particular, she wanted a pet – one that would match her best dress, swim and jump and play all day and at night sit on her pillow and sing to her. So the Royal Pet Handler set off on a quest to find the perfect pet, but nothing was quite right. The mouse was too squeaky, the kitten refused to swim, the hippo wouldn’t jump and none of them were green. The task seemed impossible until one day the Royal Pet Handler arrived with a frog. It seemed just perfect. It was able to swim, jump and play, AND it was green. But when Princess Cassandra put it on her pillow and kissed it goodnight, it turned into a prince!
“Princes aren’t pets,” she declared and banished it to the royal kitchens. So the Pet Handler went in search of another frog and the same thing happened. Again and again and again, until there were princes everywhere. Then one day, the princess found her own frog but the same thing happened, except this time the prince wanted to stay a frog. Will she ever get the perfect pet?
This is an hilarious take on the traditional Princess and the Frog story made even moreso by the terrific pictures of Palacios who brings the characters to life through their facial expressions. Who would have thought there were so many different frogs?
A playful bedtime read that might make little ones think twice about kissing things goodnight!
Whenever you ask young children what they are afraid of, you can be sure that some will say “a wolf”. Even though we don’t have them Australia, nevertheless they rank right up there because children’s storybooks are littered with wolves that do the wrong thing. Little Red Riding Hood, The Three Little Pigs, Peter and the Wolf, The Boy who cried Wolf – all stories they hear over and over and all with the wolf as the baddie. No wonder their ranking on the scare-o-meter is so high!
But what happens when the wolf wants to improve his image, reinvent himself and get some good PR? In this charming twist on the classics, Wolfie and the author have a conversation but no matter what evidence the wolf offers to defend himself, each time the author starts a new story it descends into the same-old, same-old cliché. And even when it DOES go further than the first page there is not a happy ending. Is it possible to give a bad reputation a makeover?
This is a unique, hilarious story about trying to change your image which will appeal to all sorts of ages for all sorts of reasons. Little ones will just love it as they recognise favourite characters and plots and the action-packed pictures; older readers might be encouraged to think about stereotypes, perceptions and preconceptions and even the phrase “being tarred with the same brush” which has particular application in today’s political arena.
The story of Goldilocks and the three bears is a familiar traditional tale passed down through generations, but it always ends with Goldilocks fleeing into the woods destination unknown. In this rhyming version, the story is continued as Goldilocks is charged with break and enter, damaging goods, and terrorising bears. She claims she has a defence – she was employed by Mrs Bear to renovate her home but it had to be done in secret because Mr Bear would not agree.
My bear-in-law is coming here
The house is in bad shape, We haven’t had the time, you see
We’ve had to hibernate.
It’s been a few long winters
The house is getting old
And you’re the one to make it new
Or so I have been told.
And so Goldilocks goes on to explain just how the chair got broken, how the porridge got eaten and why she was found asleep in the bed.
Brightly illustrated, it is written by a Brisbane primary teacher who clearly knows how to engage young children and make them think beyond the page. As well as being an appealing story it raises lots of questions for the children to discuss such as whether they believe Goldilocks or they could even hold a mock trial developing the arguments for the prosecution and defence and each student being a jury member coming to a verdict and explaining why they reached their conclusion.
It also offers a way to demonstrate the concept of perspective and how this changes depending on the character’s role in the story, paving the way for the students to examine other stories from the perspectives of their different characters.
So, as well as an entertaining story, it has great potential as a teaching tool.