Score 94/100 (9.4 out of 10)
Dragon's Breath is a magnificently illustrated, fanciful, and unique story by Dr. Dawn Menge! This wonderful book welcomes readers to the Kingdom of Quails, a beautiful kingdom where the people thrive and treat each other with care. It is ruled by the loving power couple of King Teddy and Queen Giggles. Life is good in the Kingdom of Quails until, one day, a malevolent and manipulative dragon visits it.
The dragon proves to be a pathological liar, getting everyone in the kingdom to believe, trust, and follow her despite her ill intentions. Even King Teddy and Queen Giggles fall for her lies. The dragon's defining characteristic seems to be her jealousy as she becomes jealous of the happiness that King Teddy and Queen Giggles have for one another. She seems to have some degree of affection for Teddy, almost like a jealous ex-girlfriend, and resents the fact that he loves Giggles. This prompts the dragon, who lacks the ability to breathe fire, to blanket the kingdom with the smoke she breathes, causing all of the crops to fail and hurting the very people she earlier pretended to be friends with.
This book is incredible in a lot of ways. The main thing that stuck out to us immediately is that the art is superb. It's phenomenal! We'd recently seen a professionally, traditionally-published take on the Beauty and the Beast story, and this book—which we presume to be independently-published—looks just as good if not better!
This is made all the more incredible since it's such a huge step forward from the illustrations in the previous book by the same author. Just about everything in this book looks top-notch and incredible. The only thing that looks a little off sometimes is the dragon herself, who appears to have a receding hairline, but that might be intentional and actually might serve the purpose of showing some of her motivations and insecurities. The dragon, in a lot of ways, is meant to reflect a woman slighted, so her appearance fits. It's just something you notice right away and it does kinda bother you initially just simply because of how different it is.
The other two stars of the book, King Teddy and Queen Giggles, look handsome and gorgeous respectively. Scratch that, they look drop-dead handsome and drop-dead gorgeous. They both might be in the running for “Hottest Character.” Heck, even the peasants look great! That's always saying something when the side characters—NPCs—who don't even have names are made to look incredible.
This book really only has a few weaknesses. Unfortunately, most of those have to do with the writing. That's a little bit of a bummer considering that it's very short, so any errors could've and should've been caught by one or two little proofreads and revisions. One thing that jumps out is the improper or inconsistent use of capitalization for things like “Kingdom of Quails” or “kingdom of Quails.” There's also some wrong-word usage such as when King Teddy uses the word “vanquished” instead of “banished” (which he clearly intended to say based on what happens afterward). However, these things are easy enough to overlook, especially if you're going to be reading this aloud to your kids or students. They're probably not going to care about or even notice these grammatical things.
In closing, we wanted to talk briefly about the themes. This book may be useful in exposing kids to the dangers of emotions like jealousy, envy, covetousness, and resentment. You see the consequences of acting on those emotions. Children, especially around the age of two or three, can be very self-centered. Everything is “me, me, me” and “mine, mine, mine.” They often get into conflict with each other over who gets to play with a toy first (or longer). They are also upset when other children get more attention than they do. That's just something that seems normal when you consider that a kid that age is someone very small and the world seems so big and out of their control. They cling to whatever control they can get. It may be a good idea, however, to still discuss with children that things like jealousy and greediness can be very destructive. It's a good way to lose friends, not gain them. It's a good way to push people away instead of pulling them closer.
It is very possible that the reader may feel some sympathy or even empathy for the villainous dragon, and that's fine. She's not pure evil. In fact, her motivations, as we mentioned, are understandable. Perhaps you can have fun talking to your kids about the changes the dragon went on to make in her life to improve her relationships with people.
All in all, we can definitely recommend this book for children.
Check it out on Amazon!