Score: 80/100 (8.0 out of 10)
Adventures of Dragons Den is a children's short-story featuring a family of friendly, magical dragons who come to a new village intending to blend in with the humans there. Kids may get a good laugh at the silliness of the dragons as they try on gowns, hoods, hats, and even a fake beard at one point. They might also get a good laugh when the dragon's get a little taste of their own medicine when two little boys dress up as dragons to come visit them.
It's all in good fun, and some of the writing (especially the rhyming) is quite good. One issue with this book is that, for a book intended for children around the age of 4-8, it is a bit trying on the patience. We all know how fickle a child's attention span can be. Perhaps the main issue with this book is its art, which leaves a lot to be desired. You still have to admire the artist for at least making an effort. However, it does seem like they're still learning the ropes and working on bettering their craft. The art does come across as a weak point, although it's not unlike art in other books we've seen before that still squeaked by on the merit of their characters and stories. Indeed, the characters are cute and compelling enough for us to still care about them and make an effort to follow along.
The character concept of Mummy Dragon takes advantage of the fact that almost all children love their mummy. Likewise, Baby Dragon is a character that kids can get behind and empathize with.
At the same time, it does kinda feel like these characters—along with the human characters like the Smiths and Mrs. May—are like pieces on a chess board as opposed to fleshed out beings. It seems like they're just people who are there to be there. They're NPCs.
Furthermore, things just seem to happen without reason or cause. For example, what was with the frog? Was it just to get a good chuckle because Mummy Dragon missed her meal? Did it warrant a page writing about it or another page featuring a picture of the frog? Does the frog make a reappearance in the sequel and continue to taunt Mummy Dragons?
See, if this scene moved the story along, then it wouldn't be that much of an issue. It almost feels like the author was making this all up as they were going along based on what came up in rhymes. When it comes to a children's book, especially an illustrated one, you just can't do that. You need to plot out each and every scene or your illustrator is going to pull out their hairs trying to follow each new idea that pops into your head. So, what we're saying is that there are times when this book does seem a bit disjointed.
At the same time, strangely, the story is rather simple: dragons come disguised as humans, then humans come disguised as dragons. Each of them wants to fit in with the others instead of just being themselves, and they are rather easily outed in the end.
This could potentially be a good lesson for kids to learn. Kids, especially as they start getting older, are going to be under more and more peer pressure. They're going to be more and more pressured to try to fit into the crowd rather than be themselves and do what they do best.
Sometimes, dragons are best at being dragons and people are best at being people. That doesn't mean that they can't cooperate and form groups/teams that make use of each other's unique strengths.
This book actually has the potential to be a top-notch. The story is mostly there, so are the characters (if they're fleshed out more). What you have here is a great second or third draft to a children's book, now it's time to refine the art by hiring a skilled illustrator. In particular, you really want an artist who is going to get the head shape and neck sizes right. The backgrounds are all either non-existent or very barren, consisting of things like one wooden fence or some trees. We noticed those were the things that troubled us the most. It looked a bit wonky, especially when it came to those proportions and the dullness of the backgrounds. It's not like you have to overstimulate kids with a barrage of colors, but you do need to impress them a little more. We've noticed that pencil-colored artwork just hasn't been performing too well. If you're going to go the hand-drawn route, make absolute sure you're coloring in the images thoroughly with dark, solid lines and colors. Really fill them in. Otherwise, they're going to appear washed-out.
See, if you want your characters to come alive in a book like this, you really need the art to be on point. That's how you breathe life into the characters in an illustrated book, that's how you bring them to life.
All the other pieces are there to work and play with.
Now, again, this book has some great things about it. For example, the end-rhymes are really fun to read and they should help catch a child's attentions. There are some really funny, silly moments involving the dragons and people dressing up only for others to notice odds things about them like their height or odd-shaped heads. This could be a fun, cute book to read along with your child.
You can check this out on Amazon!