Children's Book Reviews

Book reviews by elementary school teachers Kate Glinsmann and Jennifer Sykes.
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Have You Seen My Dragon? by Steve Light

HaveSeenDragon1Steve Light has created a masterpiece.  The cover of this book gives you a clear indication of the fun that lies inside.  Its intricate, detailed black and white cityscape shows only two things in color — a little boy and his dragon.  The little boy, you learn, is hunting for his dragon.  Where will you find him?  Open the book.  He’s hiding on every page!

Light has created a book of many layers.  It is both simple and complex.  Each two-page black and white scene contains one fun object in color with a corresponding number.  Children may focus on the ascending numbers of each page turn and count the special, colorful items in the scene.  The young reader may also try to find the hidden dragon in each setting; it’s certainly an intended (and entertaining) goal.  Or one can delve into the details unrelated to the dragon or the numbers and see hundreds of charming little moments that are common in busy cities.  It takes several reads to fully appreciate all that Have You Seen My Dragon? has to offer.

This book is built around the amazing illustrations of a city.  It is so busy and energizing that it wouldn’t work well as a bedtime read, but it is definitely educational, interesting, and humorous.  Children will enjoy the order that comes with a counting book, but they’ll also enjoy the chaos of the city backdrop — monkeys stealing the zookeeper’s keys, men making deliveries, subway cars zooming by.  The exploration of an urban landscape and the number familiarity make this as much a learning book as it is a pretty book, and what isn’t made better by a cameo by a wayward dragon?

Have You Seen My Dragon? is a real delight, and it’s a book that manages to be youthful without being condescending.  Parents and children alike will enjoy this book.  It’s light on words but rich in experience.  It would make a beautiful gift for any child or family, especially ones living in a big city or headed to one on a fun adventure of their own.