Kenny & the Dragon

by Tony DiTerlizzi
Reviewed date: 2009 Apr 22
160 pages
cover art

I bought Kenny & the Dragon for my stepdaughter. She said that she tried to read it, but it was too boring. That's OK. I really bought it for myself, because I wanted to read it. Kenny (hey, that's my name!) is a young boy rabbit who loves to read (just like me!) and is a bit of a lonely bookish nerd (like me!) Unlike me, Kenny the rabbit becomes friends with a dragon who lives in a cave by his father's farm.

The dragon's name is Grahame--like the cracker but with an e. Kenny and Grahame get along fine until the townsfolk find out about the dragon. Then the king asks Sir George the Dragonslayer to rid them of the menace. Kenny is frantic; Grahame is a kind-natured, gentle dragon who wouldn't hurt a soul, but he can't get anyone to understand that. Fortunately for Kenny, Sir George meets Grahame and is convinced that he is not dangerous. To placate the townsfolk, they put on a show: Sir George pretends to fight the dragon. The performance is a success; even the king is impressed. When it's revealed that everything is an act, the king invites George, Kenny, and the dragon to repeat the performance at the royal court.

The illustrations in Kenny & the Dragon are endearing, and they're why I bought the book. (That, and the rabbit's name is Kenny.) The plot is a bit thin considering the more complex style of the writing, but it's OK. It will never be a classic, but it's a decent little book.

DiTerlizzi could benefit from a few writing lessons and a more hands-on editor, though. His characters never say anything without doing something at the same time. For example:

"I've never killed a thing in my life," the dragon said as he closed the book and eyed Kenny.

That kind of sentence construction is OK if used sparingly. When it's the template the author uses most often, it grates. When I read Kenny & the Dragon aloud to my daughters, I find myself editing as I go:

"I've never killed a thing in my life." The dragon closed the book and eyed Kenny.

It makes the text flow much smoother. It's a writing mistake that isn't too apparent when you're reading silently to yourself, but it becomes glaringly obvious when you're reading out loud.

Kenny & the Dragon is a retelling of Kenneth Grahame's classic tale, The Reluctant Dragon.

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