Customer Reviews: Kenny & the Dragon
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon September 28, 2008
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Are you familiar with the legend, St. George and the Dragon? If you don't know the older legend, perhaps you have read "The Reluctant Dragon" was written by Kenneth Grahame (the author who penned "The Wind in the Willows" about a hundred years ago. The general story is about a peaceful dragon who comes to live in a village. Since dragons are usually dangerous beasts the villagers and King want the dragon slayed. However the person who is to kill the dragon, George, realizes the dragon is peaceful and fakes the killing then reveals that the dragon is peaceful.

Tony DiTerlizzi retells the story in more modern times yet still in a fantasy world. In DiTerlizzi's version the main character Kenny is a schoolboy, or actually, a rabbit who dresses in human clothes and acts like a human. All the characters in this book are animals living as humans. Kenny is a gifted child, a bookworm consumed with teaching himself anything and everything that interests him. Kenny is different than his peers, due to his intelligence. His best friend is an elderly bookstore owner named George, who retired from some kind of work with the King.

The dragon, named Grahame, comes to live on Kenny's family's farm. Kenny befriends the dragon, who in addition to being friendly and peaceful also loves books and is an autodidact, who loves Shakespeare and can even play the piano. The dragon is having a splendid life until the villagers find out of his existence and the King calls for his execution. The rest goes along as with the tale as penned by Kenneth Grahame.

The story moves at a fast pace and never slows down. I was hooked into the story and wanted to find out the outcome.

The publisher states this book is for independent reading by children of ages 9-12. This book, due to its gentle nature, would also make a good read-aloud for children under age nine. This book would fit perfectly for a book for a child younger than nine, who is an advanced reader to read to themselves. It is sometimes it is hard to find books on a higher reading level with content that is not too mature for the reader or that doesn't have highly emotional content for the sensitive reader. (For more book reading suggestions for gifted young readers, see the book "Some of My Best Friends Are Books" by Judith Wynn Halsted.)

My eight year old read the book first and loved it, tearing through it in two sittings. My dragon loving 11 year old was a bit put off by the talking animals part, and was disinterested, much to my surprise; he thought is was a bit childish (he is reading the Eragon books now).

Many issues are raised in the book such as the obvious peace-making and avoidance of murder and violence, not judging a person by their appearance, being open or closed minded, friendships, stereotypes, the power of persuasion and "group think". Even marketing and commercialism are touched upon, in the part when souvenir t-shirts are being sold for the slaying event!

Teachers and parents looking for books that promote peace and non-violence take note this is a perfect book to fit that bill.

Parents of precocious children, gifted and talented children, and bookworm children will enjoy seeing elements of a gifted child in the main character Kenny.

Some adults like the older stories that have good values and illustrate good character traits and have the good bones of telling a good story. However some children do not like the older language such as is used in one hundred year old books. Other times the parent or teacher assumes the child would not like or understand the older language. What this book accomplishes is taking all the elements and plot from the old, good story, and retelling it in more modern verse for today's children that is easily read by the children, or read aloud to younger children. The story itself is well-told by DiTerlizzi, he did a great job keeping the story intact and not ruining it by changing it too much, not dumbing it down, and by not making a joke of it as some other authors have done when rewriting the old legends or fairy tales for today's children.

Bravo to Tony DiTerlizzi for rewriting a classic story worth reading!
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on September 4, 2008
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
What an adorable story. This book is written by Tony DiTerlizzi, who also wrote "The Spiderwick Chronicles", so you know that this author can write. It is a story of a rabbit named Kenny who befriends a peace-loving dragon. Seems simple enough, except that the other villagers have some misconceptions of what a dragon is and decide to dispatch the dragon. My 8-year-old dragon loving son found the story very enjoyable. He could have read the story himself, but since his 6-year-old sister also wanted to hear the story, I read it to them. My daughter also throughly enjoyed the story. Her only complaint was "there should have been more girls in the book" :) The chapters are short so that makes it nice when reading outloud. (Personally, I could not stop at just 1 chapter, I think I enjoyed reading this story as much as my kids enjoyed hearing it)
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on December 3, 2015
I first read this to my 5 year old daughter as a library book check out. I read it out loud and it was such a cute story that even my 10 year old son decided to listen in. We liked it so much that I bought it for my daughter's birthday. It is definitely a family favorite now.
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on March 23, 2016
I enjoyed the use of complex words in a young adult book. However, as a mother of two girls, I was really sad to see that the only two girls in the entire book were a stereotypical mom in the kitchen making food for everyone (seriously, throughout the whole book she's either making dinner or doing the dishes) and Kenny's "friend" who is the damsel in distress screaming and crying for someone to help her. What a blow to my kiddos, both of whom see themselves as very brave. So - okay story and writing - terrible model for girls (unless you want to teach your kids that the woman's place is the kitchen and/or that they are to be helpless and must be "rescued").
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on April 21, 2014
Beautiful cover..would love prints; and beautiful story. I'm over 50 and read the story through in a day; such a delight. Now have read it to my grandchildren to their delight. Heart warming and family oriented theme with excitement and learning lessons for all
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
In this charming book for young readers, a little rabbit named Kenny befriends a dragon, and then has to convince the terrified villagers that this particular wyrm has no plans to put them or their crops on the menu.

The dragon lived on Shepard's Hill
Just near the Parrish Creek
Young Kenny Rabbit ventured near
So he could sneak a peek

Grahame was the dragon's name
Like crackers with an "e"
He and Kenny soon were friends
And bonded happily

But far too soon the news got out
Spread by the town naysayer
The King issued a summons for
His trusted dragon slayer

So what on earth can Kenny do?
Is Grahame to be slain?
The rabbit has to find a way
To stop the hate campaign

According to the English tale
St. George defeats his dragon
But hopefully this time around
There won't be a toe tag on

Told in simple language and beautifully illustrated, this book would be fun reading for the 8 to 10 age group. It emphasizes the benefits of reading and creative thinking, the dangers of jumping to conclusions, while stressing the importance of a support network of family and friends.

(Note: I did think it rather strange that a rabbit who runs a farm and lives near a village of talking animals manages to own a flock of non-talking sheep, but I'll put that down to artistic license and maybe some dumb sheep)

Amanda Richards, September 13, 2008
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on October 28, 2011
I had a lot of fun with this book. It was a short read but Tony D. does such a great job of creating likable, real characters. His art is also fantastic and what is not to like about dragons. This story reminded me a bit of DragonHeart, but this book was a much more fun and creative ride.
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on September 3, 2008
Kenny Rabbit has always been a little different. While most in the tiny farming town of Roundbrook are, indeed, farmers, he is a perpetual bookworm and dreamer, always with one fanciful notion or another in his head. But now it appears that he may be just a little too different for the citizens of Roundbrook - after all, who on earth has a dragon for a best friend?

When the villagers learn of the dragon running loose over the countryside, they immediately designate it a scourge and mark it for imminent extermination, to be carried out by a dragon-slayer! Can Kenny figure out a way to make the villagers see the truth? Can he save his best friend?

KENNY & THE DRAGON is a touching tale of friendship that draws inventively from the classic story of St. George and the dragon. Kenny Rabbit is a protagonist you can't help but root for, and the illustrations in this book are simply adorable. While the prose in KENNY & THE DRAGON is a little cumbersome at times, it is not enough to detract from the charm of the tale, and the lessons taught are an effortless part of the story.

Children will be drawn in by the unique and lovable characters of Kenny Rabbit, Grahame the dragon, and George himself, and take away heartfelt lessons of courage, friendship, and diversity.

Reviewed by: Rebecca Wells
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on June 12, 2014
While I hadn't read a Tony DiTerlizzi book before "Kenny and the Dragon," I was familiar with his work on "The Spiderwick Chronocles" and "The Search for WondLa" books. And I LOVED him as an illustrator -- he has a knack for taking fanciful creatures and making them look entirely plausible and realistic. I loved the pictures he did for the children's book version of the classic "The Spider and the Fly" poem, his illustrated field guide that served as a spinoff for "Spiderwick," and his covers for the re-releases of Bruce Coville's "Magic Shop" books, and his pictures were arguably the best redeeming feature of Greg Bear's Dinosaur Summer. His name was pretty much the main reason why I picked up "Kenny and the Dragon" -- if nothing else, I could enjoy his illustrations.

While not an amazing book, "Kenny and the Dragon" is an enjoyable read, especially for younger readers. And of course, the illustrations are great.

Kenny is a rabbit, a bookworm and the son of a farmer, living in a village populated by anthropomorphic animals of all sorts -- rabbits, squirrels, badgers, porcupines, etc. When his father comes running into the house one day yelling about having seen a dragon, Kenny decides to investigate. He's expecting a ferocious monster... but instead encounters a friendly, intelligent, and book-loving creature who simply wants to live in peace. Kenny befriends Grahame, as the dragon is called, and even invites him to dinner with his family a few times. But when the village -- and the king -- get wind of Grahame's existence, they send a dragonslayer to destroy him... and said dragonslayer happens to be another friend of Kenny's. Can Kenny stop a possibly fatal confrontation between the two, without losing friends in the process?

If the story sounds familiar, then you're not alone -- it's essentially an updated version of Kenneth Graeme's "The Reluctant Dragon" -- the two main characters, Kenny and Grahame, even derive their names from the author of the original tale. But it's still a charming tale, and telling it from the point of view of a bystander to the inevitable knight/dragon confrontation is a nice twist. The characters are delightful -- Kenny, his parents, Grahame, and even George the dragonslayer -- and it was a treat to get to know them. I especially liked Kenny's mother, a no-nonsense woman who doesn't let anything, even a dragon, ruffle her.

I'm not sure why DiTerlizzi chose to use anthropomorphic animals to tell this tale, as it adds very little to the story. But it does help in one unexpected way -- the illustrations. Tony's human characters in his illustrations always looked a little off to me, with oddly squashed, almost animalistic faces. Using animals in this particular story avoided that particular visual pitfall, and made for a better viewing experience.

Not a masterpiece, but still quite fun and enjoyable. Good for children ages 5-10, though I'm sure even adults will like the illustrations.
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on August 3, 2014
It gets hard at times for our family of 4 children ranging from 12 to 4 years old to find read-alouds we all love, but this one was a winner. Kenny is a young rabbit. They didn't use the term nerdy but that is basically what he was. His dad is a farmer, and comes home one day with the news that he saw a dragon out in the fields! Kenny pulls out his trusty bestiary and tries to nail down what exactly they are dealing with. Turns out the bestiary information is wrong entirely, as Grahame our dragon patiently informs him. Of course, the two form a nice friendship with a bit of adventure.

The vocabulary included is rich without being terribly hard for our youngest. It is far from dumbed down though, and sentence structure lends itself to an all-ages read aloud. There are a few pencil drawings to show here and there. The chapter lengths vary from super short (3-4 pages) to about triple that, but they are not overwhelming chunks for the 4yo and 6yo. The story of two species finding common ground and fast friendship is always sweet. Tony DiTerlizzi packs a lot of humor into the story, some more subtle and some completely obvious, appealing to kids to all ages.

We are about to study Medieval History for the second go-round with our kids, so this was a light intro to some of the terms and the times. We all enjoyed it - 5 stars from us.
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