Friday, September 27, 2013

Picturebook Review: Komodo!

Komodo! by Peter Sis

Published by Greenwillow Books, 1993

Pen and ink watercolor paint

Goodreads Description:
They don't breathe fire or grow wings or lay siege to castles, but there are dragons on the Indonesian island of Komodo nevertheless. For a kid who loves dragons more than anything, could there be a more magical place in all the world to visit?

My Review:
Peter Sis's illustrations are, as always, filled with delight and detail. This story illustrates the vast wonder of a boy's fascination with dragons, particularly the Komodo Dragon. The images are full spreads with intricate detail; they display secret dragon images throughout the pages, especially the jungle scenes. The visual narrative alone engages young readers and invites them to explore the images for small details. From the first page, readers are prompted to scout the illustration when Sis writes, "It is always easy to find me in school pictures because of my dragon T-shirt," accompanied by an image of a very large school group. 

The boy's curiosity about dragons is stretched from the inside cover, across each page, and again on the back cover. His imagination has him trimming bushes in shapes of dragons and picturing dragons in the stars. From the immediate beginning, this book engages young readers to enter the fascination of the story's protagonist. 

The text is kept short and simple, easy for readers to understand, yet allows the illustration to carry part of the narrative. The story is fun; it's about a boy whose parents fly him to Komodo Island to see his favorite creature, where the boy has his dream encounter with a live Komodo dragon. The story was interesting, and a great way to teach about Komodo dragons without reading a book that just lists facts about the reptile. I will say I found the story a bit dull. The Komodo facts were interesting and the images were great, but it felt like the story only existed to support the images and to display facts about the Komodo. I would have liked it better if the visual and verbal narratives worked together a bit more. Also, the colors are very uniform. I think the illustrations could have used a touch of added color or perhaps a single image that stood out a bit more from the rest. 

I give this a three out of five foxes. It is a great book to read for learning as it isn't too didactic. The images are filled with detail, displaying the vast imagination of the boy who loves dragons. Komodo! is a good book to read with young ones and encourage them to use their own imaginations about something particular they love.  

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