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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Lovabye Dragon, written by Barbara Joosse and illustrated by Randy Cecil. Candlewick Press, Random House.2012. $19.00 ages 4 and up

"Oh, she cried silver tears
many, many tears
so wishing for a dragon
so lonely for a dragon
and they trickled down the stairs
past a teeny-tiny mouse
in his teeny-tiny house
past a boat in the moat
past a frog in the bog
round a bend in the glen"

The longing for a friend takes a new twist in this poignant tale about a little girl who dreams of meeting a dragon, and a dragon who wants to meet a little girl. And why not?

Barbara Joosse is a word spinner and she does credit to her craft when she introduces her female protagonist:

"Once there was a girl
an all-alone girl
in her own little bed
in her own little room
in her own little castle
who didn't have
     a dragon
         for a friend."

The loneliness is unmistakable. When we meet the dragon we learn that he, too, wants a friend. Luckily the fates are generous; the little girl cries tears of grief that find their way to the mouth of the dragon's cave. When they roll up to and over his nose (do you call it a nose or a snout?) he awakens with a start and a GLUK!

As luck would have it, he takes a chance and follows those tears (in a back-the-way-they-came route) to the little girl's bedroom. Oh, what joy! Despite their differences, they are each thrilled to meet the other, and immediately become fast friends. They spend their days playing, chatting and occasionally hiding out together. They welcome the fact that they also have some things in common:

"On the outside, Girl is little.
On the outside, Dragon's biggle.
But they're just the same size
     exactly the same size
in the middle."

Randy Cecil's rich oils in blues and greys perfectly match the lovely language of this dreamy tale of affection and harmony. The yellow of the little girl's dress is the only brightness in its pages, and that is just perfect! Both charming and winsome, this is sure to be a hit at story time. I love it!      

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