Book: Have You Seen My Dragon?
Author: Steve Light
Age Range: 4-8
Have You Seen My Dragon? by Steve Light is part counting book, part seek-and-find, and part dragon story. A small boy leaves his apartment building, asking (the reader? the doorman?) "Have you seen my dragon?" The dragon ("1 Dragon"), shown in green against a black and white background, is hiding not very effectively behind a potted tree. But the boy doesn't see, and sets out across the city to look for the dragon.
On the next page, the boy thinks: "Maybe he got hungry and stopped for a hot dog." A little banner near the top of the page announces: "2 Hot dogs". There are two hot dogs shown on the page, in brown, against, again, black and white background. The dragon is visible (not colored) atop the hot dog stand, again not seen by the boy. And so on, up until the boy finally finds the dragon, on a page spread with "20 lanterns."
Light's illustrations cover various aspects of cities, from buses to shopping districts to monkeys in a zoo, from cathedrals to bridges to taxi cabs. He plays with perspective a bit. Some scenes are shown sideways, while others are a mix of upside down, right side up, and sideways. There is sometimes a path for the boy to follow across an image, though not always. The items that the reader is supposed to look for are never very difficult to find (given that they are the only colored items on each page), making this more a book to practice counting than to truly seek and find. But there are myriad details on each page, to reward close observation (as in Zephyr's Flight, by the same author, though the feel of the two books is quite different).
Have You Seen My Dragon? is a fun book for kids who enjoy counting, and for kids who like poring over detailed illustrations. There's not much of a narrative story to it, and it's not a very good bedtime or group storytime book (requiring too much engagement with the pictures). But it's full of visual details that linger in the reader's memory, and is an ode to cities, too. Libraries will definitely want to take a look.
Publisher: Candlewick (@Candlewick)
Publication Date: April 8, 2014
Source of Book: Library copy, checked out for Round 1 Cybils consideration in Fiction Picture Books. All opinions are my own.
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