King Jack and the Dragon, written by Peter Bently and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury, was published in 2011 and therefore qualifies for the tag “old” when it comes to picture books. A good rule of thumb if you’re looking for books to gauge the current market is to make sure the books aren’t older than the kids who will be reading it or being read to.
We follow King Jack and his men, Zack and Casper, as they build and prepare a castle and then rush off to fight the dragons and other beasts. As one by one the knights are taken away by “giants,” King Jack is left to fight dragons alone – at least for a while.
Written in bouncy rhyme, this story is a wonderful celebration of imaginative play. Some bricks, blankets, and sticks can be anything you want: a drawbridge, a throne, a sword.
This resonates with an adventurous child-like heart, no matter whether it’s an adult or child. We’re either remembering being like King Jack in our childhood or we recently have been a King Jack.
The art adds a perfect touch of whimsy. Helen Oxenbury’s style, which many of us are familiar with from We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, has a perfect blend of realism and cartoonism to compliment the imagination and playfulness of King Jack.
A fun book for any reader of 3 and up, but would be most loved by a child who builds castles and dreams of fighting dragons.