In 2012, David Nytra's The Secret of the Stone Frog kicked off the TOON Graphics series for visual readers. At a higher reading level and with more complex stories, TOON Graphics are perfect for readers ready to graduate from the superb selection of TOON books created for emerging readers. Now, Nytra brings us another incredible Leah and Alan Adventure with Windmill Dragons.
The title page of Windmill Dragons, seen above, brings to mind the start of Alice in Wonderland where we find Alice, sitting on the bank with her sister, who is reading a useless book with "no conversation or pictures in it." While Dinah the cat was an invention of Walt Disney, our heroes Leah and Alan do have a dog, Rowdy, and it is this pup and Leah's big book of monsters that gets this adventure started. And, like Alice in Wonderland, Windmill Dragons is best enjoyed if you dive into the magical, mysterious, occasionally confusing world that Nytra created whole heartedly, leaving logic and linear storytelling behind. This is easy to do because Nytra's illustrations are intricately detailed and instantly engaging, drawing you into the story and keeping you there.
When a magical windstorm stirs up a Windmill Dragon, Leah and Alan, who are just returning from a noble quest to find food for their dog, now find they must rescue him from the dragons. As the "Behind the Story" notes tell us, Windmill Dragons was influenced by Don Quixote, mythical monsters from Jewish mythology, and the tale of Sir George and the Dragon. Nytra even includes an enormous hen named Pertelote, after the hen from The Canterbury Tales, who lays eggs that contain magical gifts that help Leah and Alan on their quest.
Nytra also works a Man-eating Boat from Native American culture into the story in the form of the Meat-eating boat who appears to take the siblings to Monster Island. While the Meat-eating boat wants to eat Arundel and Rosen, Leah and Alan's steeds, but settle for a bag of jerky. Every moment, every panel of Windmill Dragons is exciting and interesting. Nytra combines fantasy elements that readers will recognize in a way that feels familiar and new at the same time. Packed with creatures and characters, Windmill Dragons is a perfect follow-up to The Secret of the Stone Frog! I can't wait to see what Nytra's overflowing imagination and skillful pen come up with next for Leah and Alan!
Source: Review Copy