There Was an Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight by Penny Parker Klosterman, illustrated by Ben Mantle

There Was an Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight is the debut picture book by Penny Parker Klostermann with fantastic illustrations by Ben Mantle. It may seem that there is no room to improve upon or add to (especially with Lucille Colandro's many variations on the cumulative rhyme) but Klostermann and Mantle had added a fantastic new twist to this old tale with There Was an Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight.

What Penny Klostermann brings to the story of There Was an Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight, besides the great concept to begin with, is a text that is rich with vocabulary perfectly suited for a medieval tale. There is a steed, a squire, a lady and a moat.The dragon swallows a "savory cook and his recipe book" along with a castle that gets swallowed "down to the last golden tassel."  

By the end of the book the dragon, who has  started to bloat, wonders if he has been "a tad impolite. Perchance I should only have swallowed the knight." Klostermann's rhymes are perfectly paired and paced.

Ben Mantle's illustrations are perfectly paired with Klostermann's story. His dragon is just the right amount of menacing with a touch of cartoon goofiness. His depictions of the characters who make up the dragon's meal inside the dragon's ever expanding stomach are excellent! There is a skull floating around, but there are also little clouds of dust that trail behind the steed as he goes "clippity, clippity, clippity, clop" around in the dark. Mantle's illustrations are filled with movement, which makes sense since he has a background in illustration.

As a former bookseller who read the original and (sometimes wearily) the knock-offs of There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly (Simms Tabak's version with the die-cuts is my favorite) I am surprised that it was even possible to write a version that feels so fresh and is so entertaining!

Source: Review Copy

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