Book Review: The Tale of Custard the Dragon

Rating: ★★★★☆

The Tale of Custard the Dragon is a whimsical fantasy in verse about Belinda, who lives alone in her house with four pets, a dog, a cat, a mouse, and… yes, a dragon named Custard.  All the other denizens of the house pride themselves on their fearlessness at make-believe games, and they deride poor Custard for his timidity.  However, when a real danger arrives in the form of a burglarizing pirate bent on mayhem, only Custard is ready with a suitably ferocious response.  After the danger is past, everyone begins to boast again about their courage, and Custard agrees that everyone else is braver than he is.

Nash’s hilarious wordcraft and sly humor will amuse children and adults alike, and Lynn Munsinger’s whimsical illustrations merrily evoke the mood of the poem, while bringing the rather complex vocabulary into reach for kids.  Younger listeners may not immediately grasp the central irony, and a brief explanation may be necessary for them to appreciate the joke.  This book is probably best introduced as a read-aloud, although confident readers will also be able to enjoy it.

Purists may also want to check out the earlier version illustrated by Linell Nash Smith, Ogden Nash’s daughter, although it’s out of print and hard to find.

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Publication Information: Nash, Ogden. Tale of Custard the Dragon, The. Munsinger, Lynn (Illustrator). Little, Brown & Co. 1998. ISBN: 0316590312.
Categories: 4 Stars, Age 04-08, Book Tree, World Nifty 50
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Posted on September 17, 2012

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