Picture Books and Comic Books illustrated by Traci Van Wagoner & Kurt Keller (Booker T. Bear)
★ 2019-01-22 -
A young elephant deals with her feelings with the help of four tiny dragons who live in her closet in this debut picture book.
Ellie the elephant has four magic dragons: Naz, who assists her when she's afraid; Nali, who consoles her when she's sad; Tully, who helps her check her anger; and Hani, who shares her happiness. When Ellie is startled by sounds in her new home, Naz tells her it's all right to be scared and offers tips on how to handle her fears. When Ellie is unhappy because her father goes to work, Nali encourages her to draw a picture to lift her spirits. When a new friend rips her picture, Tully suggests she take deep breaths to calm down. In Goodrich's clever tale about coping, the dragons provide sound counsel ("We can always draw another picture," Tully asserts). Each dragon is in a bold color, which Van Wagoner (Nelson Beats the Odds Activity Guide, 2019, etc.) uses to great effect in a paint-splatter style. The dragons leave trails of brilliant hues when they fly, but other colors in the beautiful illustrations, such as the purple of Ellie's skin or the gray of her noisy radiator, extend beyond their characters or objects to enhance the pages.
The dragons' acceptance of the heroine's reactions, their solid advice, and a kid-friendly elephant children can identify with should resonate with young readers struggling to manage their emotions.