Gus the Garden Dragon by J. Steven Young
Gus the Garden Dragon is a rhyming picture book for children that focuses on a beautiful garden tended to be a collection of fairies and gnomes. The story follows a fairy named Opal who fails at performing her duty of providing seeds to a young gnome named Felix who is meant to plant the seeds into the garden to foster the growth of more beautiful plants and flowers. Without seeds, Felix decides to take it upon himself to go into the garden to find seeds to plant, convincing Opal to join him since it is her fault they are in this predicament in the first place. It’s not long before the two run into the garden dragon, who is surprised to see them there. Opal quickly flees, leaving Felix to be left in the dragon’s clutches. It turns out that the dragon is actually a rather nice creature who doesn’t care to hurt Felix, so when the fairies and gnomes come to rescue Felix later on, they realize he doesn’t really need rescuing at all.
This book offers important lessons to children, making them realize that assumptions are not always correct, and sometimes even if something or someone appears to be dangerous and scary, it might actually be a kind and gentle creature, just like Gus the Garden Dragon. Friends can come in all different shapes and sizes, and the friendship that develops between Felix and Gus as they work together to plant seeds in the garden is a touching and cute part of the story that children will surely enjoy. The illustrations are vibrant, almost feeling as if they come from stills from a television show, as the characters appear as 3-D like animations. The narrative moves quickly and has a nice rhyming scheme, although it is on the longer side for a picture book, and could maybe have been shortened in parts. Nevertheless, this is a charming tale that children and parents alike will have fun reading.
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