Martin Baynton is the author/illustrator of books such as Jane and the Dragon. He has also worked with Richard Taylor of Weta Workshop producing television programmes for children such as The Wot-Wots. His daughter Terri wrote the scripts for this progamme. Terri Baynton, the Illustrator of this book, is a scriptwriter and storyliner for children’s television and has also worked for Weta Productions. She lives in Sydney, Australia.
To say I have been blown away by this book is an understatement. The illustrations are amazing and the story itself has an underlying message which even the small person in our family “got”.
This is a story about Norman the Dragon who lived on Dragon Island with other dragons. There were red dragons and blue dragons, old dragons and new dragons. There were dragons everywhere. Norman though was not like all the other dragons. For one thing he wasn’t keen on conflict, which the other dragons seemed to embrace. Norman was always patching up the other dragons after they got injured. Norman also liked making things. He made hats and mats, a rocking chair, pottery and wickerwork rugs and bamboo stilts and colourful kilts. He also liked patchwork and made a bag.
No matter what Norman did, he was unable to stop the other dragons fighting. Once a year there was a Race Day which was a big day on Dragon Island. Norman of course entered with his rather unconventional wicker basket and his patchwork bag. The prize was three wishes.
The story that further develops is a fascinating one that caused a lot of discussion between me and the little person in our family. She is in daycare a few days each week, so knows all about other kids being mean. She wanted to know why Norman made a wicker basket and why the other dragons didn’t want to do what he wanted them to do. I discussed with her how and why Norman dealt with the situation when the other dragons were mean to each other. She nodded her head in agreement.
I really think this book is amazing. It is a good way of opening up discussions with children on how they can deal with situations that they experience with others. I just love the illustrations. The little person in our family examined each illustration carefully and asked all sorts of questions regarding the different characters in this story.
Reviewed by Christine Frayling
by Martin Baynton, illustrated by Terri Rose Baynton
Published by Scholastic NZ