One of the first things that struck me when I began reading Henry and the Chalk Dragon is that Jennifer Trafton’s prose sings. This book will make a great read-aloud. The second thing that struck me is that his book is hilarious. It reminded me of the Scholastic survey report in which the highest percentage of kids (70%) want a book that will make them laugh. Henry and the Chalk Dragon fits the bill.
Henry is an Artist. But he wants to keep all his imagination safely tucked away within his room and his sketchbook. So when he draws a dragon and it escapes to school, Henry has no choice but to try to recapture it with the help of his science-minded best friend Oscar. But things get complicated when the dragon begins changing shape into other drawings Henry has made. Henry realizes it’s only a matter of time until it becomes the drawing he most wants to keep hidden, especially from Oscar.
What I Loved About This Book
- Art and Imagination–The themes of art and imagination surface again and again in Henry’s story. Is art meant to be kept secret and safe, never to be seen by others? Or does sharing make it better? Is imagination dangerous, as most of the adults in the story would have Henry believe? Or is imagination exactly what they all need?
- We are all Artists–Reading this book, I felt Trafton was talking just as much to me, the adult reader, as she was to her child audience. We adults often forget that we are all artists. But all of us have some creative superpower whether it be drawing or writing or science. And her audience is right at the age where many kids decide they no longer have what it takes to be an artist. This story gives the message that it’s not too late for them and it’s not too late for us as adults either. After all, our kids learn from our example.
- Hilarity Ensues–Henry’s Dragon causes ridiculous mayhem throughout the school (which most of the adults are oblivious too). Most kids will likely think the craziness is hilarious. However, some more literal-minded kids may find the antics over the top.
A Favorite Quote
This is the kind of book that I found myself bookmarking multiple pages because the text was so beautifully resonant. Don’t get me wrong, the message never gets in the way of this rollicking story. The beauty is how naturally the theme fits into the story. If I hadn’t already convinced you to read this book, I hope this quote does the trick. (It was really hard to pick just one).
I can’t recommend this book enough. It will make a great family read-aloud for kids as young as five and an independent read for kids seven to eleven.
Do your kids still believe they are artists?
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher, Rabbit Room Press <http://www.rabbitroom.com>. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”