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Saturday, August 9, 2014

Have You Seen My Dragon?

While reading Steve Light's new book Have You Seen My Dragon? this afternoon, I responded to one double-page spread by speaking aloud my thoughts. "I would like ice cream." My husband, sitting quietly nearby, asked what I had said. Obviously, it had not quite registered that my thoughts became public! This happens with the listeners on the story steps all the time. They cannot help but respond to books when their engagement with the text and artwork is intense.

Have You Seen My Dragon? begs for reader response from the end papers and continues through the twenty spreads in which a young boy searches the city for his dragon. Readers will no doubt find the dragon easy to locate on some pages (on top of the hot dog vendor's cart, for example) and artfully disguised on others (like when he is part of the fountain in the monkey house at the park). Each spread features ink drawings - done with "a Mont Blanc 149 with a B nib that 'flips' to a fine line" - and just a bit of color, determined by whatever the boy and dragon are seeing or doing on that spread. Books are a goldenrod shade when the boy looks at the book stall for the dragon. The dogs in the park are light brown, and the balloons at the playground are red (just like at my favorite bookshop). 

Readers must look amidst the detailed drawings for the scaly dragon but also for the young boy, who is sometimes a bit more hidden than the dragon. He often asks others for assistance, causing him to miss his friend who is playing or helping nearby. For tracking all the places the boy and dragon have been (with corresponding colors), the end papers are an excellent narrowed map.

One of the best lines in the book comes from the author's biographical statement on the jacket flap:
"When I visited New York City as a kid, my father would tell me that the steam coming from the manhole covers was a dragon's breath - which made me want to live there!" And of course, that scene is illustrated with the 11th spread. 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the info on this book. My son would have loved it... but your dad's comment on the manhole covers was priceless.
    *btw Met Rita yesterday at Art in the Park.