Friday, May 13, 2011

"Dragon in my Pocket" by Denise Coughlin

Denise's Coughlin's "Dragon in my Pocket" is a sweet, surprisingly rich and wise children's picture book. It's the kind of book that reminds you that the big truths really can be conveyed in a children's story, and that age and time may alter by degree, but not necessarily in kind, what obstacles we face and what tools we can use in overcoming those obstacles. The story is accompanied by charming and delightful water color illustrations by Bill Kastan.

"Dragon" tells the story of Sebastian, a good but small kid, who is bullied by Nathan at school. Sebastian is also anxious about turning out the lights at night because he fears that a dragon is hiding in his closet.

Sebastian has a caring grandmother, Busia. Busia steps in and tells Sebastian a story. Busia comes from a land far, far away. There, in Krakow, hundreds of years ago, there was once a dragon that was defeated by Krakus, a brave young man. So far so good. But then, centuries later, a new dragon arrived. This new dragon was much worse than the first one. The illustration accompanying this story depicts a menacing dragon commanding the sky above an entire city. Busia insists that even this dragon was conquered by "many good people … They did not let this dragon steal their spirits because they were frightened. They protected their hearts … dragons get smaller and smaller when we let our brave and loving hearts get larger and larger."

Busia's words are amazingly wise. They will work for any reader, of any age, whether that reader is aware of the horrors that visited twentieth-century Poland or not.

Busia gives Sebastian a stone dragon, one she bought as a souvenir in Krakow. She accompanies this gift to Sebastian with more sage advise. Newly equipped with a "dragon in his pocket," Sebastian confronts schoolyard bullies with a new approach, and a happy ending.

"Dragon in my Pocket" is a truly lovely book. I read it through more than once and teared up each time. I wish someone had given me a book with this book's message when I was a kid, and I hope parents will give their children this special gift.

"Dragon in My Pocket" on Amazon

Author Denise Coughlin's homepage

1 comment:

  1. This book sounds delightful. The sort of book to buy for grandchildren. I'm hoping I will be able to do that soon.


Bieganski the Blog exists to further explore the themes of the book Bieganski the Brute Polak Stereotype, Its Role in Polish-Jewish Relations and American Popular Culture.
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