Sunday, May 02, 2010

Children's Book Monday

Does this sound familiar?

Let's go for a walk! I call to the children.

And they come running; my little men with swords in hand, my girl with a basket to collect treasures. The boys run and shout, dodging behind trees, leaping out to protect their sister from imaginary dragons, battling legendary kingdoms from afar. She, on the other hand, walks quietly, stopping every few feet to add rocks, flowers, or feathers to her hand-basket, humming songs, asking me to pretend that I'm the queen and she is the princess, and the baby on my back is her brother, the prince.

This book tells my story, and yours, and so many others...

Dragon Scales and Willow Leaves
by Terryl Givens
illustrated by Andrew Portwood

Though the little boy and girl in the story are twins, they are delightfully different, as many boys and girls are. On the very first page we see Jonathan, bespectacled and windblown, pointing off into the distance while Rachel, her reddish-gold hair blowing over her face, leans to pluck wildflowers from the meadow. What a dreamy intro to this charming story...

Leaving their farmhouse behind, Jonathan and Rachel go into the woods; he to hunt buried treasure, she to look for robins' nests. Jonathan wields a sword and a trash-can-lid-shield, and Rachel grasps the paw of her teddy bear, when suddenly, there is a flicker of red and a stirring, rustling...

DRAGON! shouts Jonathan, and his sword slashes and strikes, scattering dragon scales through the air. But Rachel doesn't see a dragon. She stands beneath a giant weeping willow tree, the leaves gently fluttering through the air.

As the two continue on their walk, Jonathan always sees danger and sets out to protect his sister and their land, and Rachel takes her time, picking flowers, smiling at the birds in the trees. It is so much fun to turn the pages and see Jonathan's imagination painted in vivid watercolors- pirates, trolls, Vikings... and then to see what Rachel sees; bullfrogs, squirrels, and corn fields brimming with ripe green stalks.

And when they arrive home, they see it in two different ways, of course, but they are both happy to return; to safety for Jonathan, comfort for Rachel.

There are few words to this tale, leaving much room for imagination, much opportunity to interpret the illustrations. Mr. Givens writes stories for his six children; in fact, this book is inspired by an afternoon spent watching his son, Jonathan, playing with his toy sword and helmet in the back yard!

Dragon Scales and Willow Leaves is a good, old-fashioned tale about a boy who is both brother and knight-protector, and the sister who goes along with her brother/knight-protector on his adventures, but sees things in an entirely different but pleasant way.

Even my big boys flip through it when they walk past the fireplace, chuckling and murmuring, Yep, that's what I saw, too!

Happy Reading!

3 fellow travelers shared:

Anonymous said...


I know I've said this before, but thank you for making our library trips so much more rich and enjoyable by way of your reviews. We've come to trust your recommendations and they've formed a wonderful base of great books in our collection.

This one looks great, too! :)


Emily said...

This looks WONDERFUL! Thanks for posting reviews so faithfully! I put an old review up that I haven't linked to before.

The Homemaker said...

So sorry I was unable to participate this week. Busy Busy Busy. We went to the Pepperdine Lectures and I caught myself scanning the crowd for you... another time! Do take care my friend. I will link up next week!

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