Review Blog

Apr 07 2014

Billy is a Dragon: First Bite by Nick Falk

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Ill. by Tony Flowers. Random House Australia, 2014. ISBN 9780857983053.
(Ages: 9-11) Recommended. Billy is an ordinary, nearly 10 year-old boy to whom something amazing happens with hilarious consequences. It starts with a trip to Benny's Pet Shop, and an irresistible desire to pat a Drag-ON lizard.
When the lizard bites him on the finger pandemonium ensues, Mum is furious and his sister Becky thinks he will infect everyone. Only Bertha the dog shows him any sympathy. When his finger continues to swell the next day, Billy disguises it from the family with gardening gloves and heads off to school.
Things go from bad to worse at school as Billy begins to change into a Dragon. He burps and sets fire to the teacher's hair before escaping to the toilets where his transformation is completed. He narrowly escapes through the window with the aid of his best friend Jeanie who takes his transformation with remarkable aplomb, and discovers the joy of flying.
After taking shelter at home in his sisters bedroom, he is captured by his father who decides to sell him to the zoo. Chaos continues to follow Billy and his only option is to return to Benny's Pet Shop to try to find a solution, predictably provided by the bite from a Drag-OFF Lizard, and some answers provided by Benny.
The hilarious, cartoon like illustrations by Tony Flowers add much to the enjoyment of this book. The reader can not only follow the story through the larger illustrations, including an anatomical explanation of a bully and complex scientific representations of a dragon, but the small cartoons around the edges will appeal to any aged reader.
Like many modern books, there is an extensive use of different font and lettering styles to highlight individual words, which not only enhances the text but also serves to break up a continuous page of writing which supports the less confident reader.
Sue Keane

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