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Review: Dragon Puncher

Dragon Puncher is fierce and fearless and ferocious and he has no time for the small, furry, annoying Spoony-E. But Spoony-E has a secret weapon: his spoony! With it he can help Dragon Puncher defeat the stinky, vile dragon.

Dragon Puncher
James Kochalka
Ages 5-9, Grades K-4
Top Shelf, July 2010, ISBN 978-1-60309-057-5
40 pages, $9.95

Kochalka’s off-beat humor works perhaps even better here than it does in his Johnny Boo books. He’s found just the right blend of sarcasm, silliness, and action to appeal to both child readers and to adults reading this with their kids. The Dragon Puncher is all powerful, too important for the little Spoony-E, but kids will cheer when Spoony helps save the day in the end. Don’t think, though, that Kochalka means to make this a “very special tale” about “working together.” This story is all about fun and he offers it up in waves. There’s stinky breath, slimy drool, and, mostly importantly, a wooden spoon. And as any small child knows, even the most innocuous wooden spoon (or stick or cardboard box) can be a powerful tool with the right imagination.

Readers will also love Kochalka’s art in this story. He combines photographs with his trademark simple, colorful lines with hilarious results. Dragon Puncher is played by Kochalka’s grumpy cat wearing a robot body, Spoony-E has the face of a three-year-old (Kochalka’s son) and the body of a tiny Yeti-like creature, and Kochalka himself provides the visage for the worm-like dragon. The setting is a lush green field, which will make perfect sense to anyone who has ever spent hours outside pretending to be a superhero or a cowboy or another imaginary hero.

In addition to being an enjoyable story, Dragon Puncher would work well to inspire readers to craft their own silly collage stories, making it a great choice for art classes. An excellent choice for school and public library collections.

This review is based on a complimentary copy supplied by the publisher. All images copyright © Top Shelf.

Snow Wildsmith About Snow Wildsmith

Snow Wildsmith is a writer and former teen librarian. She has served on several committees for the American Library Association/Young Adult Library Services Association, including the 2010 Michael L. Printz Award Committee. She reviews graphic novels for Booklist, ICv2's Guide, No Flying No Tights, and Good Comics for Kids and also writes booktalks and creates recommended reading lists for Ebsco's NoveList database. Currently she is working on her first books, a nonfiction series for teens.

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