Dragons Are the Worst! by Alex Willan. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2021. 9781534485112
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 3
Genre: Picture book
What did you like about the book? Gilbert the Goblin doesn’t get why everyone thinks dragons are scary. Sure, they can fly, trap kings in towers, breathe fire, and have sharp teeth, but that’s nothing compared to goblins. A clever diagram gives us a pictorial representation of Gilbert’s inflated sense of self: the goblin has a big head (= big brain), big ears (to hear danger), and the wingspan of a small mongoose. Gilbert really starts to feel his oats when he mistakenly thinks a posse of brave knights is afraid of him. Young readers will enjoy the irony of the dragon cabal standing right behind the goblin and intimidating the nobles. In the end, Gilbert and the four colorful, roly poly dragons play and eat melted ice cream. The book has a requisite poop joke; falling feces give Gilbert his new power of super stinkiness. The digital illustrations are slick, bright, and cartoonish; no subtlety here. Gilbert’s speech (the sole text) is delivered in the first person and rendered in large talk bubbles. Handsome endpapers feature giant, overlapping, bright green dragon scales. This is a follow-up to Willan’s 2020 Unicorns Are the Worst! in which Gilbert disparaged those beasts for being frivolous and glittery.
Anything you didn’t like about it? No
To whom would you recommend this book? Readers 4-8 who like giggly stories filled with broad humor. It’s pretty much the same as the first book, so fans of Unicorns who crave a second installment will be happy.
Who should buy this book? Elementary and public libraries
Where would you shelve it? Picture books
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No
Reviewer: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA
Date of review: September 29, 2021