There is no dragon in this story by Lou Carter

cover image

Ill. by Deborah Allwright. Bloomsbury, 2017. ISBN 9781408864906
(Ages: 4-7) Recommended. Fairy Tales. This is Lou Carter's first picture book and her background in teaching has evidently helped her create this engaging and clever story. Similarly to Nick Bland's The Wrong Book, the reader is addressed directly, making them feel a part of the story. 'This was supposed to be a story about a dragon who captured a princess . . .' but Dragon has gone off in a huff ('I will not capture any icky, frilly princesses today', he says) and gone searching for a story where he gets to be the hero for once. He traipses around fairy tale land, pleading with well-known characters to be the hero in their stories. He offers to save the Gingerbread Man from that Fox and to save the Second Little Pig from that Big Bad Wolf. -No, no no, that's not how it goes. There is NO DRAGON in this story- is the refrain. A fantastic picture map shows him being turned away repeatedly, by Goldilocks, Hansel and Gretel, and Little Red Riding Hood. NO! they all say. He is just trying his luck with Jack when his bad timing sees him become part of the story, altering its path and throwing fairy tale land into chaos. What everyone really needs now is a dragon to be the hero! Can he summon up the courage?
Young children will love identifying all the familiar fairy tale characters depicted within the story. It may even encourage them to revisit them or seek out those unfamiliar to them. The book could be used to inspire creativity in storytelling as it shows how introducing an unexpected character or event can change a story's trajectory and how it isn't always necessary to follow a traditional story pathway. It could even be used to discuss stereotypes and how we can break free of them, both within the stories we tell and within our own existence. Dragon is a fantastic character who is easy to empathise with; he wears his heart on his sleeve, is full of exuberance and determination, and is just a little crazy. The illustrations are fantastic, particularly the dark pages showing the fairy tale characters stumbling around and making a mess of their stories. A great read aloud, especially for fairy tale fans.
Nicole Nelson