K-Gr 3—It's science project time in Mrs. Henshaw's class, and when all the eggs have been distributed for placement in the desktop incubators, Sally notices that hers is different. "Don't be difficult," responds her teacher. This mantra is uttered to children and adults alike whenever an objective observation threatens to alter her universe. All of the other chicks are yellow, fluffy, and diminutive; Sally's is green, scaly, and off all growth charts. Argus and Sally are banished to a remote corner of the playground, after the dragon's "pecking" causes dangerous craters. When he disappears, Sally "waited to feel relieved. She waited to feel happy." In the ensuing scenes, Knudsen's heroine grapples with her conscience, her emotions, and the notion of being different, emerging with a newfound peace and strength when the lost is found. Wesson's lanky, gawky watercolor and ink caricatures capture the fragility of childhood, and the understated telling provides space to grapple with one's own navigation through episodes of unenlightened authority. Children will relate to the drama while enjoying the humor found in both text and illustration. The compositions are full of the clutter and chaos one might expect with chicks and a dragon residing there. For another tale concerning the depth of youthful compassion and intelligence in contrast to their classroom leaders, try Paul Fleischman's The Dunderheads (Candlewick, 2009).—Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library
Each of Mrs. Henshaw's students receives a chicken egg to study for science. Sally's "looks different," and it hatches into a dragon. Knudsen's text includes lots of humor ("Don't be difficult," repeatedly responds Mrs. Henshaw whenever Sally indicates her hatchling's divergent and destructive qualities). Wesson, using impeccable lines, expertly details the implements and appliances of a grade-school science project.

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