When I was a kid, we had a big fat book called Golden Treasury of Children's Literature. It was full of excerpts from longer books - a chapter from Mary Poppins, a chapter from The Wizard of Oz. Some poetry, some obscure stuff. A really scary Rapunzel. I ate that book up and then forgot it, although I think it is the reason that I have an unexplained but vehement dislike of excerpts. I felt terribly cheated, not getting the whole story.
I forgot the book, but the images from it nonetheless live strongly in my head. Kind of like a K-Tel record, the book excerpts it contained were not illustrated with the canonical illustrations one associates with these works. They were very good - I think Charley Harper illustrated the Bambi story - but they were different, and they imprinted strongly on my mind. For example, despite multiple readings of an edition of The Hobbit with the Tolkein illustrations, and despite the towering charisma of Ian McKellen, I still envision the Gandalf in that book when I see Gandalf in my head.
So when I met Dave, the lovely, friendly dragon in Sarah Adams's lovely, friendly picture book:
with his sidewise tufts of hair, chevron tail tip, round eyes and little curved fangs, I saw Horatio, from Poo-Poo and the Dragons by C.S. Forester. The classic illustrations of this book are by Robert Lawson, but someone else drew this gorgeous thing, from the big yellow book that is probably still on the shelf at my parents' house:
Pretty, no? I am darn sure Sarah Adams thinks so too. Sarah Adams, by the way, is a welcome addition to my list of picture book people whose books I will snap up without a second thought. Wow.
Dave is a shy dragon, and when his friend Violet tries to integrate him into her life, he feels nervous and embarrassed and loses his cool. The situation is resolved kind of weakly, but I DON'T CARE. LOOK AT THESE COLORS:
Look at the thick linocut lines and rough, luxurious textures! Look how much expression she can get into a little kid's face - in a linoleum print! Good gravy.
Side note: Apparently hot dad Dave Grohl's daughter is named Violet, because when you google the title of this book you get all sorts of photos of Dave being longhaired and awesome with his little girl. Serious Dad porn. You're welcome.
Here's something else you'll thank me for: There's a possibility that old dragon is by Alice and Martin Provensen - they worked with the Untermeyers, the editors of The Golden Treasury, on a couple of other books, notably a very nice edition of Aesop's Fables. Their work is really cool.