Saturday, November 22, 2008

War of Words: Max's Dragon by Kate Banks

Kate Banks and Boris Kulikov, who first introduced us to a talented young wordsmith in the notable Max's Words, have a sequel, Max's Dragon.

As this story begins, big brothers Carl and Ben are playing croquet and ignoring Max, who obviously wants to join them. Instead of whining, though, Max pulls out the old Tom Sawyer trick. Opening an umbrella and crawling under it, he begins to rhyme.

"There's a dragon in my wagon.
We're playing hide and seek,
So please don't peek."

Karl and Ben just laugh at their silly little brother's verse as Ben hits the ball across the lawn.

Looking up at a dark dinosaur-shaped cloud moving in, Max ominously rhymes on.

"My dragon's sneeze made quite a breeze.
My dragon's fury makes me worry.
My dragon's roar has made it pour.

As thunder rumbles and a storm begins to wash out their game, Max finally has Carl and Ben's attention.

"What can we do to make it stop?" cries Carl.

"You need to make a rhyme!" says Max.

"The dinosaur fell into the well," says Carl.
"Where he had to stay for the rest of the day," finishes Ben

Suddenly the pouring rain and roaring thunder begin to move away. Carl and Ben look at their little brother with new respect. "Would you like to play croquet?" offers Carl.

"I don't know how but I'd like to learn," says Max.

"Then take a turn," says Carl.

As the three play the game, the showers return. Bringing the story around full circle, Max calmly pops open the umbrella (remember the umbrella?).

"Don't be upset about getting wet," he rhymes nonchalantly.
Because, as you can see, there's room for three."

Once more, Max's way with words makes the game his own and wins the war, and without a blow being landed, big brothers Carl and Ben concede this skirmish in the battle of the brothers. Banks' wondrous wordplay and Kulikov's wonderfully creative illustrations in his signature style have created another picture book that plays the game on several levels.

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