Picture Book Review: 'There Was An Old Dragon Who Swallowed A Knight'
illustrated by Ben Mantle
Random House 2015
There can never be too many re-writings of “There was an old lady who swallowed a fly..” at least if you are preschool or early elementary age. And the repetition of the familiar pattern with unexpected elements makes this first picture book by Penny Parker Klostermann fun for kids and adults alike.
After the old dragon swallows a knight, a steed, a squire, a cook, a lady, a castle and a moat, he doesn't die, like the old lady in the original tale, but he does get a bad case of gas (which, of course, young children will love). Then he burps up all but the original knight (“just right”) and ends the book with a delightful play on words: “Good knight!”
Brightly-colored cartoonish illustrations by Ben Mantle accompany each scene of the book, capturing the fun and fantasy of the tale with characters whose facial expressions perfectly convey the absurdity of the plot. An enormous red dragon with a polka-dot napkin tied around his neck will draw children in from the cover, and the delightful images and rhymes will keep the pages turning throughout this fresh new approach to an old tale.
Penny Parker Klostermann spent her childhood near Redstone, Colorado, climbing mountains and wading in rivers with her three sisters. Although they saw lots of wildlife, they never saw a dragon. She now lives in Abilene Texas with her husband. This is her first book. Visit her online at pennyklostermann.com.
Ben Mantle began his illustration career early, picking up his first award in a local library coloring-in competition at age seven. He went on to work in animation. Ben has illustrated quite a few picture books and is now working on his first projects as both author and illustrator. Visit him online at benmantle.co.uk.
Renee Vaillancourt McGrath has worked as a writer, editor, librarian, and public radio program host. She lives in Stevensville, Montana, with her husband, two daughters, and two dogs.