The Sunflower Sword

PreS-Gr 2—In this charming tale, an unnamed little knight with a colander on his head dreams of being big and brave enough to conquer the dragons who inhabit his "land filled with fire and smoke and endless fighting." He asks his mother for a sword. When she wonders why he wants one, he explains with a smile, "To whoosh and swoosh in the air." Instead of handing over a deadly weapon, she gives him a sunflower, and the intrepid lad resigns himself to pretending it is a sword. He climbs Dragon Hill whooshing and swooshing his sunflower, slaying imaginary dragons along the way. Suddenly he is confronted by the real thing. The fearsome monster spies the flower in the boy's hand and takes it from him, thinking the young knight wants to be friends. Soon all of the knights in the land are inspired to lay down their weapons, bringing peace to the community. The cheerful patchwork illustrations painted in bright, springtime colors add touches of humor to the story. The mother wears a rather modern floral print dress with a fashionable scarf around her neck, suggesting that the land of dragons and knights exists only in her son's vivid imagination. Children will appreciate the idea that fighting is not the best alternative and that an enemy can become a friend.—Linda L. Walkins, Mount Saint Joseph Academy, Brighton, MA
A "knight" (a kid with a colander on his head) wants to fight dragons using a sword; his mom won't let him. Her sunflower alternative is met with skepticism until the boy's imagination takes over. Sperring may have a pacifist agenda, but the preachiness is refreshingly minimal. Latimer gives the child's fantasy life a cartoonishly loose medieval treatment.

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