Yolen, J., & Guay, R. (ill.) (2011). The Last Dragon. Milwaukie, OR: Dark Horse Books. ISBN: 978-1595827982
Annotation: Two hundred years after the dragons are all killed, a hidden dragon’s egg hatches. The dragon grows quickly and begins to wreak havoc on a nearby village. In order to defeat this enemy, the village seeks a hero, but does not get what they bargained for.
Reaction: The art in this book is what first grabbed my attention. Rebecca Guay beautifully illustrates Jane Yolen’s adaptation of her 1985 novella “Dragonfield.” The illustrations fit the fanciful, medieval tone of this romantic dragon hunting story. Guay is able to put so much expression into all the characters’ faces and movements without overpowering the quiet story being told. Her style is very reminiscent of pre-Raphaelite paintings, specifically bringing to my mind The Lady of Shalott. While the art for this book is less detailed than that painting, the tone of each is remarkably similar, evoking a vast array of emotions. Through utilizing such a similar feeling, Guay adds romance, longing and quietly burning passion to the story.
Yolen does not feel the need to fill the book with action, as the climactic fight against the dragon only takes up 20 of the book’s 141 pages, but she develops characters with distinct personalities with whom the reader sympathizes. Even the shining hero, who the reader is sure will swindle the village out of it’s money, has depth and relatability. The story and the art is descriptive and lovely. I really enjoyed this just for fun, all ages (5th-12th grades) book and easily place it in my Top Ten Favorites for this assignment.
This book also briefly employs onomatopoeia, especially during the climactic battle with the dragon, using words like “smack,” “rooooooaaaaaaar,” “snap,” “twack,” “bong,” and “clang” to allow the reader to hear the action of the story through these words, which are set apart from the dialogue or other descriptions in all caps, onomatopoeia specific font.
Media Used: Mostly ink and acryla-gouache – but Guay switched to doing more digital color over traditional ink in the last 3rd or so of the book