“The Boy and the Dragon,” by Eric Ode, illustrated by Jim Harris, Pelican Publishing Co., $16.99.
Why on Earth is a small, quiet boy accompanying three knights on a quest?
With a wise knight, a strong knight and even a brave knight, the reader would assume they could solve all problems themselves. No need for Saul, except to carry the knights’ things and accompany the three on his mandoline with a marching beat.
Folks cheered these noble companions who set out on a search for a green, scaly dragon, singing their fearless song. The villagers couldn’t tolerate such a frightening beast, who munched on town folks for lunch.
When the three knights plus Saul arrived at a bridge, they met a changeable wizard. Brave Randolph stayed behind to prove his reputation for bravery.
In the dark forest, Simon the wise claimed he was so bright he needed no light to trudge on through the forest. He immediately bumped into trees and stumbled over roots.
Bogsworth the Strong and Saul were the only two left to complete the quest.
They happened upon a sleeping ogre. Saul suggested they tiptoe around him, but Bogsworth insisted on fighting the ogre to prove his strength.
Could one little kid banish and vanish such an enormous, hideous dragon? Well, what the dragon didn’t know was that Saul’s plink and plunk on his mandoline created magic.
Young readers appreciate the rhyming text even though publishers discourage authors from using it. Jim Harris’ hilarious illustration style, using bright colors with a jovial quality to illustrate the bumbling knights, will draw even pre-readers into the adventurous story. All of us root for the little kid.