Dragon and Captain is a fun story that celebrates the power of imagination and play.
Picture book, fiction
Interest level: K-3; Reading level: 1.4
YHBA Picture Book nominee 2017
5 out of 5 stars
There are so many things to love about Dragon and Captain — the bright illustrations, the celebration of imagination, a good friendship story, the graphic novel style format, and … who doesn’t love pirates and dragons!
The story begins with a young boy, dressed in a partial dragon costume, enjoying a bowl of cereal, when he suddenly notices there is a pirate playing in his sandbox. After introducing himself to the pirate, the dragon discovers that he is not a pirate, but just a regular captain who has lost his ship. The dragon, while slightly disappointed that he is not a pirate captain, takes charge and comes up with a plan to help the captain find his lost ship.
What makes this story outstanding is the flow and timing of the illustrations. The story switches back and forth between depicting two boys playing dragon and captain to the story being ABOUT a dragon and a captain. This follows the way a child’s imagination perceives the world as they play. They no longer see themselves as wearing a costume and playing a part, they become the part and the way they see the world changes to accommodate immersing themselves in play.
Lucas Turnbloom utilizes graphic novel style panels to keep readers on track as they read the story. He flawlessly melds the worlds of real and make believe while keeping the plot moving forward. At no point does the storyline stop progressing.
The bright and cartoon-like illustrations capture your attention, and the strength of the story will keep young and older readers engaged. This would make a fun read-aloud, especially if done with different voices for the characters. It could also be adapted into a 4-person readers theater production.
As an aside from the wonder of the story and illustrations, I want to note that I really appreciate the way the parents are depicted. The story primarily features the two kids playing, but in the background we see two female figures talking while one puts laundry onto an outdoors clothesline. My first thought was that the wife/mothers in the story had been placed in some 1950s-style role. However, this is balanced by the end of the story where the father/husband is inside cooking the meal. While this isn’t really integral to the plot, I appreciate books that don’t stereotype male/female roles with dad as the breadwinner and mom taking care of the domestic tasks. Kudos for parents sharing in household tasks!
Dragon and Captain
written by P.R. Attabach; illustrated by Lucas Turnbloom
Flashlight Press, 2015