What if sins were dragons and good Christians were dragon slayers? Writing as Sir Wyvern Pugilist, author Denham (Stories of the Saints) presents a handbook for brave children to join the “Ancient and Ever-Forgiving Order of Dragon Slayers” headed by the Chief Dragon Slayer, Jesus. Pugilist’s voice engages readers with its conversational tone and touches of humor as he describes dragons such as Bilgewater and Avarus and their sneaky methods of ensnaring the unsuspecting. No one is safe from their wiles, neither narrator Pugilist, who is tormented by Braggen, nor the slayers, who need special armor to protect themselves, including a “helmet of salvation,” a “belt of truth,” and a “shield of faith.” Snure’s full-page illustrations of dragons and slayers, done in rich earthy colors and jewel tones and mimicking the style of an ancient handbook, will gratify readers’ imaginations. An extensive “Compendium of Senior Dragon Slayers of Old” describes the lives of saints, such as St. Cuthbert and St. Francis of Assisi, as well as some modern-day Christian heroes, such as Sojourner Truth and Martin Luther King Jr. Entertaining and engaging for Christian readers. Ages 6–12.
Publishers Weekly, October 2011
This is one hard book to describe, but once you see it, feel it’s texture and heft, see the full color maps and spooky pictures–the illustrator must have been studying old Tolkien editions—you’ll see the bookish glory of this creative work. Although it sneaks up on you, this artfully told tale is, in fact, a serious guide to what the Bible calls “spiritual warfare” and it is rooted in mature, contemplative spiritual formation. There is the fiction piece, here, first rate fantasy writing, the tale of the aforementioned Sir Wyvern. (Yes, the Pugilist name is good one, eh?) But then there are some helpful, if playful, nonfiction sections, explaining great saints from church history—Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant. Want your kids to fight gossip and greed, anger and laziness. This spiritual warfare guide will help, in a way they’ll find fascinating. (For this last issue, see the character “Slackbottom.” ’nuff said.) Good for ages 9 or 10 and up.
Byron Borger, Hearts & Minds Bookstore