“ Author: Steve Smallman / Format: Paperback / Date of publication: 01 August 2011 / Genre: Picture Storybooks / Publisher: Little Tiger Press Group / Title: Dragon Stew / ISBN 13: 9781848951006 / ISBN 10: 1848951006 „
Please note: this review does contain a spoiler. I only bought this book because I already knew the ending, and that ending is a deal clincher in my opinion. I also feel that anyone really young enough to enjoy this book is not going to be capable of reading my review, so this is information for parents. If you really do not want to know how the book ends - please skip the very bottom of the review under the words "Spoiler Alert".
Dragon stew is about a very polite red dragon, and four very rude Vikings with nothing to do. The Vikings decide that capturing a dragon might be fun, they could tie him up and cart him home and cook up dragon stew. They force a killer whale to help them find the dragon's island. They know they are in the right place when they find a gigantic pile of dragon poo. The Vikings find the dragon, who politely greets them and asks them if they would like something to eat, but the only thing the nasty Vikings want is a pot of dragon stew.
This is a very short story with a lovely rhyming text and a real pleasure to read aloud. Rhyming text or Nursery rhymes are considered to be a key part in emergent literacy, and believe it or not, this process starts as young as 6 months of age. Reading to your child from a very early age is the very best thing you can do to help them become readers later, but rhyming books are especially important for children who are not yet reading. Rhyming text is also far more difficult to write well, and many books rhyme, but fall short in the story, and just because it rhymes does not mean it will necessarily have a good cadence as well. This has an excellent story for little ones, as well as a wonderful cadence and rhyme.
The illustrations are top notch as well. they are somewhat carton like, but bright and colourful enough to entice even a very young child, and very, very funny. My son usually prefers longer stories now, but I am well pleased that he really enjoys this as well, as at age 4, he is not reading yet. I would highly recommend this, from ages 6 months or even younger ( I read to my children before they were even born). This is a book for sharing with a child though, by the time a child is old enough to read this on their own, I feel they will most likely have outgrown the story. An older child might enjoy hearing this once. My eight year old did have a laugh at the ending, but I can't see buying this for a child over age 6. There is nothing in this book that I feel would upset or frighten even the youngest child.
If you do not wish to know how the story ends please stop reading here - because this is quite literally the end.
***********************SPOILER ALERT ****************************************
I mentioned that was the end, and it is. The hind end to be exact. This book ends with dragon getting fed up with the Vikings rudeness and attempts to attack him. He sends out a mighty jet of flame and all of the Vikings end up with their butts on fire as they run away screaming "Mum!" and "ooh me bum!" Now there is nothing a young child likes better than talk of bums or poo, and this of course has both. The idea of bums being burnt seems especially funny and my youngest thinks this is just brilliant. My sons always did love the end of the 3 Little Pigs as well where the wolf gets a burned butt. I did buy this specifically for the ending, which I knew would go down very well, but I ended up loving the whole book, as did my son.