By Tom Ellery
Illustrated by Amanda Ellery
Simon & Schuster
The opening page in If I Had a Dragon features a command:
The urgency and exasperation in the voice of the speaker are palpable but the recipient of the command is unmoved.
“I don’t want to play with my brother. He’s too little.”
This common objection among children with younger siblings will be familiar to many parents and readers. Morton wishes his lump of a baby brother would change into something fun like a bulldozer or—even better—a dragon!
Comic scenes play out between the hulking, bright green dragon and the small boy, whose shock of red hair is a wonderful complement to the emerald reptile. The massive creature is stretched over the spreads against a sparse, smoky background.
The boy imagines going for walks with his new giant friend.
But a dragon would rather fly.
Perhaps a game of hide and seek would be fun…
But there are not many places such a humongous being could hide.
Maybe the boy could teach his massive playmate to whistle?
The succinct text is intermixed with wordless spreads and the simply drawn, cartoonish art is lively and expressive. The combination of the two makes for a hilarious picture book. As Morton imagines all the wonderful things he could do with a dragon, he quickly realizes how a dragon’s size and abilities could actually get in the way of all the fun.
Content in the knowledge that a dragon might not be the best playmate, the boy sends the imaginary beast home and happily joins his little brother for some fun in the sandbox.
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