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Thursday, August 6, 2015

Have You Seen My Dragon? Written and illustrated by Steve Light. Candlewick Press, Random House. 2014. $19.00 ages 3 and up

"2 Hot dogs

Maybe he got hungry
and stopped for a hot

3 Buses

Or perhaps he went
downtown on the bus."

Where, oh where, can that dragon have gone?

I mean, how do you lose a dragon? The detailed search begins with 1 dragon. It is New York City, and there are so many things to see that it might be easy enough to lose your dragon, don't you think?

It is a counting book. It is an homage to the streets and sounds of the Big Apple. It is a journey of the imagination. It is a terrific book to give to those who are just mastering the joys of reading on their own. It has all the elements needed to make it so - visual clues that help a child decipher the familiar places, context for  the words encountered, an imaginative story that intrigues any young child ... and a dragon!

In the beginning, the dragon is GREEN. He's easy to spot, and very big. In disguising himself from detection, he manages to blend into his surroundings making it tough for his master to find him. As the boy wanders city streets, he is able to guess most of the places that his dragon might go. There are many things to count as he makes his way to discovery.

As we travel with him, we note that the boy is a kind of every child ... small with a round head and no real distinguishing features. The dragon, on the other hand, is quite splendid! His ability to hide himself from detection is a real accomplishment. While we can always spot the boy (and the dragon), the dragon manages to keep itself just out of sight for the young detective. Colored images of the chosen objects to be counted make the task easier.

So, there's counting, and colors, and map reading (if you take a careful look at the endpapers) and a  chance that early readers might discover enough on their first trip through the pages to begin to read in on their own. Each time they return to it, there will be more to discover.

That's a book to call a '10'!

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