David Biedrzycki, author & illustrator
David Biedrzycki has been creating illustrations for book publishers, advertising agencies, magazines, and design firms since 1980. His art has graced the cover of KidSoft magazine, New England Aquarium billboards and children's software packaging, such as "The Amazon Trail" and "Odell Down Under." His clients include Celestial Seasonings®, After the Fall Juices(tm), IBM, and Newsweek.
Read more about David Biedrzycki.
- Bank Street College of Education's Best Children's Books of the Year
- Wanda Gág Read Aloud Book Award Honor Book
It's a truism of children's literature that when dragons aren't serving as worthy adversaries of pretend play, they're the ultimate fantasy pretend pets. Biedrzycki's young narrator, like those who have gone before him, imagines a host of improbably comic situations that owning a potbellied, google-eyed red dragon could ignite: teaching the hesitant creature to fly for the first time, employing tough love and a handy cliff; startling his peers, teacher, and classroom hamsters with a dramatic entrance into show-and-tell; and showing off with a gravity-defying stroll. Using deadpan, catalogue-like text to set up the jokes ("We could clear neighbors' driveways in the winter" is a typical passage), Biedrzycki (the Ace Lacewing, Bug Detective series) creates page after page of scenarios with the kind of bright colors, dimensionality, and freewheeling goofiness that will remind readers of their favorite CGI cartoons. The jokes aren't particularly fresh ("Nice costume!" says a clueless homeowner to the dragon at Halloween), but that's beside the point: Biedrzycki is after the same kind of giggly pleasure that makes one feel like dancing at the sound of an oldie but a goodie.
Young dragon lovers not quite ready for the film How to Train Your Dragon will appreciate this gentle, imaginative account of what having a dragon as a pet might be like.
Charming digital art features a bright-red, not-too-scary dragon, who starts out small at "Eddie's Exotic Pets." Exotic he may be, but with understated humor he's shown doing all kinds of regular-pet stuff: going to the vet for a checkup, sticking his head out the car window on the way home (except this pet's head sticks out of the sunroof), chewing on a shoe, going for a walk on a leash (except he flies, rather than walks) and more. The goofy expression on Sparky's face is just like that of an eager, friendly puppy, complete with tongue hanging out, and is especially funny when he's scaring folks unintentionally (sticking his head in the schoolroom window for show-and-tell, for example). The wry tone of the text complements the illustrations' comedy, especially in issuing some cautionary advice: "(But don't give them broccoli. It gives them gas. And you don't want a fire-breathing dragon with gas.)"
Boy and dragon close their day with a bedtime read ("Knight Boy," which looks like a graphic novel featuring a familiar-looking red dragon); this amiable story can help real-life families do the same.
School Library Journal
A boy explains that he wants a dragon for a pet--a small, red fire-breathing dragon with blue eyes from Eddie's Exotic Pets. He would name him Sparky, construct a cardboard castle for him, and feed him Sizzles 'n' Bits Dragon Chow. A marvelous spread shows the youngster pushing his pet off a cliff to teach him to fly, while another features the flying dragon with collar and leash hovering above the child on one of their daily walks. Sparky could light birthday candles, clear snow from neighbors' driveways, and frighten away bullies. Though he might incinerate kites sharing the spring sky with him, he would be a hit at school on show-and-tell day. The Adobe Photoshop artwork abounds with expressions of surprise and alarm when others see the dragon. A favorite book, Knight Boy, provides inspiration for the narrator's reverie and is the source of not-so-scary bedtime stories, which Sparky reads himself after the boy falls asleep. The monochromatic art on the front endpapers offers a realistic basis for the boy's imaginings, and the back endpapers extend the story. While the brief text is a boon for early readers, this clever, funny book will delight young dragon lovers at storytimes.
ISBN: 978-1-60734-309-7 PDF
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Page count: 40
11 x 8 1⁄2