How To Save The Dragon (Madeleine Matthews)

Hello, friends! Our book today is How To Save The Dragon, written by Madeleine Matthews, edited by Jamie McNicoll, and illustrated by Ludmila Hodis, a combination storybook and workbook to help kids learn impulse control.

There is a land that is like a vast maze, with endless challenges to face every day. The heroes of this land are a dynamic duo: Flappy the dragon, who is brave and strong and full of passion; and Wrinkles the elephant, who is calm, collected, and thinks a situation through. Together, their mission is to be problem-solvers, and the pair are great together. So what happens when an alarm bell goes off and, in the panic, Wrinkles and Flappy get separated? The two must find each other again in order to set things right.

It should be noted that as a toolbook/workbook for parents, this is pretty handy and informative. The entire second half of the book is dedicated to worksheets and strategies to help little ones manage emotion and impulse control, and encourages parents and kids to work together in finding balance in their feelings – useful and educational tools. However, as a picture book, it’s a mess. The story of Flappy and Wrinkles (meant to represent impulse and complex thinking respectively) is disjointed, jumping from concept to concept with little transition or exposition, and far too reliant on complicated metaphors. As an adult, I was unclear on the subtext of the characters and story elements until I read the two-page forward that explains them (and if your picture book requires a two-page forward to explain the metaphors to the ADULT readers, your metaphors are too complex). The bright watercolor art is ambitious yet equally uneven, often lacking dimension and consistency in character design. And the rhyming text lacks a sense of rhythm and meter, making it intensely difficult to read aloud. The length was fine, but JJ seemed as confused as I was. So while I can definitely see this as a tool that can used in addition (with ample preface) to certain discussions on impulse control, as a stand-alone story, it misses the mark.

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the author in exchange for an honest review.)

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