Pendziwol, Jean E. illus. by Martine Gourbault. Once Upon a Dragon: Stranger Safety for Kids And Dragons. Kids Can Press, 2006. 32 pp. ISBN 978-1553379690. $11.99
Using elements from familiar fairy tales, a boy’s dragon friend is transformed into the protagonist of several major fairy tales after they magically become lost in the woods after leaping from a playground swing. Luckily, the boy helps Dragon avoid stranger danger in many forms: straying from the path, taking candy from strangers, accepting rides from strangers. A safe stranger – a friendly fairy godmother – helps them find their way home at the end. The subtext is that the boy in blue always comes to the rescue of the dragon, portrayed more than 50% of the time as female: Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White, and Cinderella.
The colorful illustrations, full of whimsical fairy tale detail, have a crayoned texture and delicate shading to them. They literally tell the story, though – little is added, the images simply expound upon the didactic text.
Although the story doesn’t address predatory people who are NOT strangers, the tips at the end do, which allows the story to be a jumping off point for a discussion and plan of action for parent and child. No specific resources or further reading is listed.
This review was originally published on the Hip Librarian’s Book Blog May 30, 2006.