Dragons are supposed to breathe fire and thunder, but in author/illustrator Kurt Cyrus’ newest picture book, Be a Good Dragon, Enzo the dragon doesn’t. He breathes sneezes, because he has a cold that he just can’t shake.
The book’s cover features an upside-down-flying Enzo sneezing and blowing fire, a sure sign this book will leave young children giggling and smiling — because who in this life hasn’t doubled over backward to let out a good, old-fashioned, robust sneeze? The book opens to lovely gray smoke billowing across the page spread, and curious cinders showering down on the unassuming earthlings below. What’s happening? Well, Enzo the dragon is sneezing, that’s what.
As he ‘ka-chee’s! and ka-choo’s!’ all over heaven and earth and back, all he wants is for someone to make him feel better. When Mama dragon reminds him to cover his sneeze (as any good mother should), Enzo becomes annoyed. The sneezing is driving him crazy and he MUST find a cure. Thankfully, a wizard in the nearby village thinks he has just the thing to make a baby dragon feel all better…
The plot of this book (how a clogged head can make you cranky and sneezy) is easily identifiable to young children. The sweet and fast-paced prose is written in delightful rhyme that is perfect for young readers ages 4 through 8. The illustrations are lush and rich with colors of soft gray (billowy smoke), deep green (foliage), pale reds (Mama dragon), and “sparkling ick” (the phlegm from poor Enzo’s runny nostrils). Although there are scenes where townspeople race to get away from Enzo’s sneezes (which bring fire and sparkling embers), the townspeople’s faces are not so terrified as to traumatize young readers. Mr. Cyrus reinforces his “Enzo isn’t a dangerous dragon” theme by softening Enzo’s facial features and having him say some hilariously familiar nostril-clogged phrases, like “I’b sick, I’b sick!” (I’m sick, I’m sick!), and every child’s mantra: “I dode deed a dap!” (I don’t need a nap!).
Use this book as a humorous reinforcement of just why children should cover their mouth and nose when they sneeze. It can also offer humorous independent reading, or serve as a sweet lap book just before nap time.