When I write up a book review, I prefer to have the book in front of me. For Have You Seen My Dragon? by Steve Light, however, it’s really not necessary. You see, I have read this book to the DLM every night at bedtime for the past four or five nights. If that’s not a four star recommendation, I don’t know what is. 😉 I snatched this book up from the new books bin at our most Cybils-friendly (a.k.a. the library that buys the most new books) thinking that it would make a great prospect for next year’s Cybils. Well, it turns out that it’s a 2014 nominee, having been published in 2014. Although it didn’t make the shortlist for fiction picture books, I definitely think it’s worth seeking out. This is a counting book, so it’s not text-heavy; the focus of this book is on the illustrations and the numbers. The book opens with a little boy, a Charlie Brown lookalike, asking the question of this question of the doorman of his NYC highrise: “Have you seen my dragon? No? I will look for him.” What follows then is a fun and visually stimulating romp through New York on the heels of the boy’s scaly friend. Each spread features something to count: two hot dogs, nine books, twelve pigeons, seventeen taxis, and finally, twenty lanterns. The entire book is black and white, done in fountain pen (!), with the exception of the counted items, which are colored. The illustrations are visually complex and invite study. The DLM has enjoyed counting things, including some of the hidden objects Steve Light has included, and takes great delight in what he finds. I loved reading this in the author bio on the dust jacket:
When I visited New York City as a kid, my father would tell me that the steam coming from the manhole covers was dragon’s breath–which made me want to live there!
Isn’t that great?!?! From the endpapers that map out the boy’s trek through New York that are complete with colored numbers and tiny icons of the counted items to the very satisfying ending in Chinatown with the boy’s dragon and red lanterns, this is a not-to-be missed read-aloud for the preschool and early elementary set or for anyone who enjoys fine illustrations. Highly, highly Recommended. (Candlewick, 2014)