For a book featuring a knight, a princess, a dragon and a giant on the cover, one would naturally expect the typical "Once upon a time" beginning, followed a number of pages later by "And they all lived happily ever after. The End."
When I first picked up this book, saw the knight, princess, dragon, giant and flying pig with the words "The End" written in a scroll over their heads, I flipped it over to see what the title was. Strangely, I found myself staring once again at a scroll announcing "The End." Wondering if I'd found a factory error, I opened it to the first page to read the beginning...or rather, the end of the story.
Since most of us have watched Jeopardy at least once, we're familiar with the concept of giving the answer and then guessing the question. For my kids, however, this was unprecedented.
The story begins with everyone living happily ever after, then proceeds to explain why they lived happily ever after. Each page takes us back another step, until we reach the customary "Once upon a time."
Rather than leave the reader anxiously waiting to find out what happens next, this book makes the reader puzzle over how the characters could have found themselves in the extraordinary circumstances pictured on each page. There are no quick answers, as the solution to one mystery only brings to light an even more bizarre situation, which must also be explained.
What I really like about this book is that it makes kids think. This is a cause-and-effect story in which the effect is given before the cause. Children rack their brains, trying to figure out the logical explanation for a flying teacup hitting a giant tomato, or a dragon that won't stop crying.
I originally picked up this book because my son likes stories with dragons and knights. The illustrations in this book don't disappoint. Besides being bright and colorful, they contain lots of fantastic details to keep kids looking long after the story's finished.
The text is written in calligraphy on a thin scroll at either the top or bottom of each page. Rather than completely filling the page, the illustrations are bordered in curling vines, complementing the medieval theme.
Although I brought this book home with my son in mind, all three of my kids enjoyed it, so I'd recommend it for both boys and girls who like stories about knights and dragons.
Written by David LaRochelle and illustrated by Richard Egielski.
Published by Arthur A. Levine Books, an imprint of Scholastic, Inc.
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