Thursday, May 29, 2008

Don't Judge Him by His Nickname or His Scales

I'm a chapter away from completing Poo-poo and the Dragons by C.S. Forester (author of the Horatio Hornblower series). It's a charming book of stories Forester made up for his son, who refused to eat when his mother went out of town. Forester made an arrangement with his child that as long as the boy ate, Forester would continue with the stories, and he reported being shocked by the amount his child could put away.

It's not at all surprising that the little boy was willing to stuff his face for hours simply to hear these stories. They're told with wry humor, inserting dragons into the everyday life of a typical family and treating every outrageous situation as anything but extraordinary. When Horatio, the male dragon, goes to work at the local grocery to make up for swiping watermelons or accompanies young Harold (nicknamed Poo-poo) to school, it's treated as only slightly unusual. When Ermyntrude, the female dragon, enters into a beauty salon for a makeover, the owner welcomes her, simply pausing to ensure the dragon has enough pocket money to pay for services.

This is definitely a book aimed at elementary school-aged children--its language is far simpler than a young adult series--but I'd imagine any child would enjoy it, and any adult would enjoy reading it to her child. Forester constantly interjects little parenthetical asides in the narrative, quizzing young readers about characters' names and traits. The chapters are episodic and the perfect length for bedtime stories to boot. The only disadvantage? The book is out of print. Ickie had to special order it for me through the college library. It's a shame because I can think of many little ones for whom it would make an ideal Christmas gift.

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