The Moonshine Dragon by Cornelia Funke is the next in the pile of books from dyslexia friendly publisher, Barrington Stoke that I picked up at my local library last week. Like the other Little Gems I review this has a reading age of six and up and an interest age of five to eight years.
I have reviewed another Cornelia Funke Little Gem here on Making them Readers, The Monster from the Blue Planet, which you can read here. It is clear to see that Funke loves a dragon, as they also feature in Monster from the Blue Planet, and you would definitely expect to see one in The Moonshine Dragon. Luckily you would not be disappointed.
Although they both feature dragons, the books could not be more unalike in many ways. Monster from the Blue Planet is fun and fast moving with a fresh take on the girl meets alien theme that allows for all kinds of mischief in the text. The Moonshine Dragon is more traditional, more thoughtful and to my mind more lovely, although I also liked Monster from the Blue Planet.
When I was a child, an incredibly long time ago now, I used to read a comic called Jack and Jill which had lots of traditional style stories as well as the more funny comic strip type tales. There was a story about a magic hot water bottle called Walter Hottle Bottle, and his adventures with his owner, Charles. I loved Walter, and for some reason, this book really made me think of those tales. I think it’s because it has that wonderful sense of simple wonder about it that really makes the magic in the story work. It has a gentle humour that gives it a bit of pep, but otherwise it’s just a small adventure of the most splendid kind.
Patrick has gone to bed, but a noise wakes him up. The moonlight splashing across his room shows him a book in the middle of his bedroom floor whose pages are being forced open by a dragon fleeing for his life from a very determined knight. Can Patrick save the dragon, and himself?
As ever, with Barrington Stoke, the book is a thing of beauty in itself. The easy for smaller hands to hold size of the pages, the cream background to the text, short chapters, well spaced clear font and creative use of the end pages all make this a very needful thing indeed. A lot of the things that make it so lovely also make it easier for children with learning disabilities to read and handle and I never tire of the fact that practical things can also be so nicely made and covetable.
The illustrations are by Spanish artist, Monica Armino, and they are just gorgeous. The dragon is tremendous and has such character. I love the way he twines around the pages, and acts as a stop gap between chapters. The knight and his charger look like something of a cross between the illustrations for Don Quixote and a Disney cartoon. They have a graphic novel quality to them that really works in this book. The whole thing is a joy.
The story is boy focussed, but has enough magic and beauty that it would work equally well for girls. It would make a lovely bed time story to share, and you can test the first chapter here.