Not Your Typical Dragon by D. Bar-el


  • Leslie Aitken



Bar-el, Dan.  Not Your Typical Dragon. Illus. Tim Bowers. New York: Viking-Penguin Young Readers Group, 2013. 

Without didacticism, this picture book explores the plight of those who are not “typical;” along the way, it highlights the value of peacemaking.  Crispin Blaze, the child of a long, proud line of dragons who breathe fire, breathes everything but.  Band-Aids, bubbles and teddy bears are amongst his pacifying emissions.  Finding acceptance in a world of knights and dragons becomes his challenge.

Not intended as “beginning-to-read” material, the text is still admirably written for oral presentation by either a proficient reader or a storyteller.  Phrasing and structure promote the build up of suspense.  Sentences are generally short and crisp, allowing, as appropriate, for the dramatic pause.  The vocabulary is well chosen, varied, and unpretentious.  The storyline should prove both amusing and satisfying to kindergarten and primary school children.

Tim Bower’s illustrations add to the humour of the tale.  They are large and clearly delineated—a good accompaniment to the text when seen at normal reading distance. Bower’s colour palette, however, is sometimes delicate.  Viewed from the distance at which a story hour audience might see them, some images seem to meld.  Others are perfectly fine for group viewing: good choices would be Crispin’s exhalations of both birthday streamers and teddy bears.

All in all, this book provokes spontaneous laughter and subtle reflection.  Parents, teachers and librarians will find many occasions on which to present it.

Highly recommended: 4 stars out of 4
Reviewer: Leslie Aitken

Leslie Aitken’s long career in librarianship involved selection of children’s literature for school, public, special, and university collections.  She is a former Curriculum Librarian at the University of Alberta.



How to Cite

Aitken, L. (2015). Not Your Typical Dragon by D. Bar-el. The Deakin Review of Children’s Literature, 5(1).



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