Written and Illustrated by Tomie DePaola
PaperStar Books, 1980
Once upon a time, there was a knight in a castle who had never fought a dragon. And in a cave not too far away was a dragon who had never fought a knight.
The plot in a nutshell: An awkward knight and clumsy dragon have a fight
The knight reads up on fighting dragons at the library while the dragon reads through a book on fighting knights. The knight builds some armor and gets his shield and weapons ready. The dragon practices swishing his tail and growling menacingly. But both of them perform poorly when practicing against a dummy. With continued practice, they improve until they feel they’re ready to face each other. On the initial charge, they stumble and on the second charge, they both crash into other things. The librarian who has been watching the whole thing offers them each a book on cooking and the knight and dragon open a restaurant together.
Author/illustrator Tomie DePaola offers a different take on the classic ‘knight fights a dragon’ story, with some parts that were very derivative of Kenneth Grahame’s The Reluctant Dragon. There are some pages with text, but much of the story is told through pictures, in Mr. DePaola’s classic and colorful artistic style. Being a fan of books, I loved that both the knight and the dragon turn to books to help them learn about fighting and that the librarian recommends books that take them on a whole new path. Some of my life’s paths have been formed or changed based on books and I always applaud stories that encourage people to read for these reasons as well as for pleasure.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that you don’t have to be and do what everyone else expects you to be and do.