Author Edward Packard was the pioneer and originator of the “Choose Your Own Adventure” style of books, where the reader can make different choices throughout the book and almost always find a different story with each reading. (Anybody else remember “Sugarcane Island”?) They had immediate success in the 80s and 90s, and still have a following today. Although Packard still writes books of this style under the “You-ventures” series, he recently explored a different and more traditional avenue of young people’s books, one we found to be as equally engaging.
“The Good and Bad Dragon” is an all-new story that sets itself in the old-world style of fable-like storytelling. Set amidst the backdrop of Europe’s Pyrenees Mountains, the intro reads, “This is a story of a very large but not very smart dragon that can be good-hearted, but usually is not. He sleeps for hundreds of years at a time in his mountain cave. Whenever he wakes up, he just about scares to death all the dogs, sheep, goats, and people for miles around. The dragon is curious and he is hungry. Goodness knows what he’ll eat and what damage he’ll do before he goes back to his cave. Only one person has a chance of stopping him, an old woman with a weak body and a very strong will.”
Nearly every page of this charming story has vividly animated illustrations by Beth Ogden, some with very evocative landscapes that easily transport the reader into the cozy village nestled in the valley of the dragon. “The Good and Bad Dragon” is a wonderful reminder that things are not always as they seem, and that any of us can face the things that frighten us once we choose to not be scared of it. A good lesson at any age!
Ed and Cynthia Justus are owners of The Bookstore in Hanapepe.