Friday, January 11, 2019

Knights vs. Dinosaurs by Matt Phelan

I don't really think of Phelan's water colors being funny, but pit Arthurian knights against dinosaurs and, well, yeah.

Sir Erec is pretty much your average knight and is having an average, if slightly annoying, evening at the Round Table. For some reason, when it's time to share deeds of valor, he decides to up the ante and proclaims that he has defeated forty dragons. Never mind that they all know dragons aren't real, that there has been peace for years, and everyone is slightly bored. Next thing he knows, Merlin has sent him off on a quest with several other knights and they're facing... what are they facing? Could these be REAL DRAGONS?? Thankfully, they don't breathe fire - because they're pretty much terrifying as it is!

With a few deft strokes, both in black and white illustrations and text, Phelan sketches a picture of the slightly nervous Sir Erec, muscle-bound Sir Bors, bookish Sir Hector, and mysterious Dark Knight. Then there's Mel, the squire, who turns out to be very useful in the end. The book is just under 150 pages, but it's definitely not a beginning chapter book; similarly to Princess Cora and the Crocodile, it has sophisticated humor and vocabulary, even if it doesn't match up to the popular 400 page tomes of middle grade today (which are ridiculous because few kids can read that long a book anyways but that's a different discussion). There are some panels of illustrations interspersed among the pages and in the back are facts about dinosaurs and an explanation of why dinosaurs from different eras showed up together (because Matt Phelan thought it was cool, which is, to my mind, a perfectly reasonable explanation).

Verdict: I'm not a fan of Arthurian fantasy and I can take or leave dinosaurs, but I laughed all through this and look forward to introducing it to my readers, young and old. Recommended.

ISBN: 9780062686237; Published October 23, 2018 by Greenwillow; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

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