Book Review: Dragons Beware! by Jorge Aguirre and Rafael Rosado

Dragons Beware!In my house, if something doesn’t have a set of particular characters on it, my son isn’t interested. When I presented him with a review copy of Dragons Beware!, a new graphic novel by Jorge Aguirre and Rafael Rosado, he was skeptical. But it only took about five minutes of reading and he was hooked. I was, too. We finished this 153-page graphic novel in two sittings.

Dragons Beware! is the second book in a series that follows Claudette, our brave, young hero. (Giants Beware! was the first) In this sequel, Claudette has her mind set on taking down the dragon who ate her father’s sword… and his legs! Along the way, she encounters gargoyles, giants, an apple hag, and a host of other characters to make this story exciting from start to finish. With her younger brother, Gaston, and her best friend, Marie, Claudette is confident she can defeat the dragon.

Claudette is the perfect hero. She is strong-willed and fierce, confident and determined. Her tenacity is unparalleled as her friends and family caution Claudette about the risks she’s taking. I particularly enjoyed her can-do spirit and willingness to set out, even in the face of danger, to do what she thought was right. Such strength is often reserved for male characters in literature and it was refreshing to see this powerful female protagonist.

All of the characters are well-rounded enough that we get to see their personalities and this truly brings the dialogue to life. Each character, no matter how minor, has a distinct voice which allows us to really see who is in Claudette’s life and the world around her. No piece of dialogue is wasted and every panel of the story helps to enhance and deepen the story. There’s a fantastic sense of humor throughout that truly makes this graphic novel fun to read.

This book is recommended for children ages 7 and up. While I read it to my eight year old son, he would have been able to read it on his own and I would have been comfortable with him doing so. The scenes in which Claudette and her companions fight evil are exciting but not overly violent, making it quite suitable for the intended audience. The dialogue and vocabulary push the reader, as any good book for young readers should, but doesn’t push them so far as to turn them off.

The artwork throughout Dragons Beware! is captivating. Each panel is filled with robust detail and the reader is fully transported into this world. From the bright and vibrant coloring in some scenes to the darker, more sinister look of others, the ambiance of each area is perfectly conveyed. Not only do we learn about the characters through their words, but also through their expressive gestures and faces. There is detail everywhere and the book is simply fun to look at.

While it’s not necessary to have read Giants Beware! to enjoy this follow-up, there were a few references to the original story. This doesn’t take away from this book’s ability to stand on its own, so don’t let that stop you from jumping into this one. Dragons Beware! is full of energy, action and adventure, and has such a powerful story of perseverance and determination that children will be eager to keep reading straight through to the end.

Dragons Beware! is written by Jorge Aguirre of Montclair. He has written for many popular children’s shows appearing on Disney, Nickelodeon and PBS, among others. Rafael Rosado, the book’s illustrator, is a storyboard artist for Warner Brothers, Disney, and Cartoon Network. The two met when they were studying at The Ohio State University.    

Jorge Aguirre will be at Watchung Booksellers (54 Fairfield Street, Montclair) for the Dragons Beware! Launch Party on Saturday, May 30, at 3:30 PM.




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