Thursday, May 17, 2012

Book #138: King Jack and the Dragon by Peter Bently, Illustrated by Helen Oxenbury

King Jack and his trusty men, Zack and Casper, troop outside to build a castle in the backyard out of an old cardboard box and some sheets. With their fortress in place, they battle dragons and beasts all day long, only breaking for a fabulous feast. But then a giant comes to take Sir Zack home and Caspar is carried off to bed. King Jack sits in his castle and declares that he shall fight the dragons alone. As the wind makes the trees quiver and the sky quickly darkens, the little king wraps himself tighter in his blanket, “It’s nothing.” Suddenly, King Jack hears footsteps, the footsteps of a four-footed beast, could it be a dragon? Lucky for Jack, it’s just his parents, who have come to give the brave king a bath and tuck him into bed.
Image from

Imagination is king in this handsome picture book about the backyard adventures of three small boys. The illustrations, created in soft colors and focus, deftly capture the playful spirit of the boys, as well as the dragons and beasts of their imagination. The text is dramatic and playful as well, filled with the rambunctious dialogue of the boys and vivid sounds and imagery from King Jack’s battle cry, “Raaahhh!” to the sounds of the night, “A mouse scampered over the roof, skitter-scurry.”

If you’re using this as part of a knight and/or dragons storytime, follow it up with the rhymes, Five Knights in Shining Armor and Little Dragon. Craft-wise, make your own crown, like the one King Jack wears, out of construction paper. Also check out some of the crafts and activities in my previous dragon-themed posts

I hope you haven’t thrown out those leftover cardboard boxes! Pull them out and have the kids build their own fort, along with sheets, blankets, and pillows.


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