Friday, September 11, 2009

Herb, The Vegetarian Dragon by Jules Bass and Debbie Harter

The title of this book was probably one of my favorite parts, its just an amusing contradiction because when you think dragon, you think of sharp teeth and fire, not veggies. The end pages are covered in vegetables in the front and the back. Also, there is a half title page in addition to a full title page. I must say, I am not entirely sure why publishers do this, it seems to me that one title page would be enough. At any rate, the illustrations in this book are very boldly colored and detailed. There is a lot to look at with them which would be good for students because that means there would be plenty to talk about. Another nice thing about the pictures is that they are amusing. In particular the facial expressions of the dragons and the knights.

Once again the important thing here is the moral of the story, even though I feel just a little like I was beaten over the head with it. Herb the vegetarian is offered a chance to change who he is to save his life, but he doesn't take it because he wants to remain true to himself. This is a good lesson to teach young kids and it is as old as Shakespeare's "to thine own self be true". Everyone should know this because as Malcolm X put it, "If you don't stand for something you will fall for anything". Another moral that comes out is through a secondary character named Nicole who stands up for her friend Herb and ultimately saves his life. Proving that you should stand up for what you know is right even if you stand alone.

Okay, this might be one of the strangest books that I have read up to now. This is basically because it was a bit violent and the story itself flows strangely. Now this isn't to say that I didn't like this book, because I did, it was just surprising I suppose. It is also not to say that the students wouldn't like it, I think that they probably would too though I think you would need to choose your audience wisely. The story starts by describing a dragon named Meathook, part of his description reads, "He particularly liked the sweet taste of royal princesses, and the crispy crunch of brave knights in armor was almost as delicious." This book is recommended for students ages 6 to 10 and I would have to say that I would go for the upper end of that range.

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