Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Review - Dragons in Love

Dragons in Love
by Alexandre Lacroix
illustrated by Ronan Badel
Date: 2019
Publisher: words & pictures
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 40
Format: e-book
Source: NetGalley

Drake is playing happily in the park when a little girl kisses him on the snout and a fire begins to roar inside him. What should he do with his new-found emotions? Perhaps his dad will be able to give him some advice…

Dragons in Love is a funny and moving story about young love and the bonds between fathers and children, with a positive message—and all the magic and mayhem you’d hope for in a tale about dragons.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

I have to say, this is a weird little book. I don't think it's really appropriate for its intended audience, and I don't really feel comfortable recommending it in the #MeToo era.

The plot/premise is all over the place. At first, it seems like a story about a little dragon awakening to feelings of love/lust. But then it turns into a story about bullying. So I'm really not sure what the point was supposed to be.

I had problems almost from the beginning, when Violet kisses Drake on the snout without his permission. I know this is something little kids sometimes do, and this is why teaching about consent early is an important thing. Poor Drake is so "hot and confused", and he ends up flying around and breathing fire (which appears to be what happens when dragons get aroused, if his father's story about meeting his mother is anything to go by). I really didn't like the passage that read:

My friend Violet kissed me. It didn't hurt. In fact it felt soft.

What a horrible message to give kids who might be subjected to sexual abuse. If it doesn't physically hurt, it's okay?

I was just as confused as Drake for much of the rest of the book. He seems to be most worried about his body's reaction to the kiss, and not the fact that his so-called friend put him in an uncomfortable position to begin with. Everything is "fixed" at the end with another kiss, this time from Drake, to which Violet gives consent. (I have to wonder: if the genders were reversed, would more people see the initial kiss as problematic?)

The illustrations are kind of cute and have a very European feel. I like seeing Drake's dad in his wife-beater (although I'm not sure why you need underwear if you don't wear any other type of clothing). But the whole consent issue just rubbed me the wrong way. Maybe this sort of message still flies in Europe, but I don't think we should be teaching kids that it's okay to kiss their friends without consent. A whole discussion could've been had about how Violet's actions made Drake uncomfortable because of the lack of consent; instead, the focus was on his confusion because of how his body responded. It was kind of a missed opportunity.

Thank you to NetGalley and words & pictures for providing a digital ARC.

Premise: 1/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 2/5
Illustrations: 3/5
Originality: 2/5

Enjoyment: 1/5

Overall: 1.67 out of 5

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