Have You Seen My Dragon? by Steve Light

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Have You Seen My Dragon? by Steve Light

Buy Have You Seen My Dragon? by Steve Light at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: For Sharing
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Lorraine McDonald
Reviewed by Lorraine McDonald
Summary: A little boy has misplaced his dragon in, what looks to be, New York. Follow his search around the streets counting objects as you go. This is a sophisticated visual treat that will appeal to young children including those who have already mastered numbers one to twenty. An appealing read and original take on a well known theme.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 48 Date: May 2014
Publisher: Walker
ISBN: 978-1406353815

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You’d think a dragon would be hard to lose. This one is bright green and hiding in the city streets. A little boy sets out to find him. Visiting all the dragon’s favourite haunts, the boy counts objects, from one to twenty, as he goes. Follow his route, enjoy the journey and practise your counting skills.

The most striking thing about this Have You Seen My Dragon? is the detailed black and white line drawings. From street vistas to building cross sections, I had to suppress the urge to reach for my Crayolas and do some colouring in. Colour on the page is strictly reserved for the objects that are to be counted. These range from one dragon to twenty lanterns. The scenes are what I would describe as ‘Where’s Wally?’-esque. Hiding somewhere are the boy and his dragon. Spot them if you can.

Set in what I think is New York, and possibly also following a rough street plan, this book contains some Americana that a British child may be unfamiliar with. Whether fire hydrants and water towers will expand your child’s world view or make the book hard to relate to depends on the child. Pictures aside, the text has no examples of American English that I could spot unless I was too distracted counting hot dogs and paint cans to notice.

On my first read Have You Seen my Dragon? puzzled me. Not because I had difficulty finding 13 ice cream cones or 6 monkeys, but because I thought that five year olds in the UK are meant to be able to count to twenty yet the detail of the drawings and the lack of colour seem aimed at an older child. I only got to ‘7 Boxes’ before my very young boy crawled off to dismantle the bookcase. I think he felt short changed as the iridescent dragon on the front cover was not to be found in his shimmering glory inside. Although my little one is definitely below the target age, I thought this validated my first thoughts. However, when little boy’s Daddy got hold of this, he had a very different opinion. After a period of studious silence and page turning he declared it was the best children’s book he had read and waxed lyrical about the Lowry graphic style. With Daddy’s endorsement ringing in my ears I decided to put my doubts on one side and give Have You Seen My Dragon? another shot.

So what did I conclude? I think this is somewhat more than a counting book – that is too narrow a definition. After a few reads, I realised that in a sense, this is an activity book as much as a counting book. A child may start by naming the colours, move on to counting, then graduate to reading the text before following the map illustrated on the front and back inner covers. Quite apart from the visual appeal and the dragon/boy spotting, the story is engaging and the clear font will aid the early reader. To call this a counting book is a little simplistic and ignores the quality of the artwork and breadth of learning opportunities. The book has a longevity and sophistication beyond mastering numbers one to twenty. If you can refrain from getting the felt tips out, I think Have You Seen My Dragon? may be enjoyed through many childhood years.

If your child, like mine, is still very young or you like your counting more cutesy, you might like to try Poppy Cat's Counting Adventure by Lara Jones

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Buy Have You Seen My Dragon? by Steve Light at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Have You Seen My Dragon? by Steve Light at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Have You Seen My Dragon? by Steve Light at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Have You Seen My Dragon? by Steve Light at Amazon.com.


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