Where the dragons live by Serena Geddes
Aladdin (Simon and Schuster) 2020. ISBN: 9781481498760.
(Age: 3+) Recommended. Writer and illustrator, Serena Geddes gained much of her training at Walt Disney Studios in Sydney working on well known animated films. Illustrating other people's work led her to try her hand at both sides of the creative process and Rosie and Rasmus was published in 2019. This delightful story is followed by a new publication, Where the dragons live, as the character Rasmus goes off in search of other dragons for company. Flying to the nearby island he comes across a clutch of fire breathing, rock kicking dragons who deride him because he is small and has tiny wings and doesn't like the things they like to do. Forlornly, he sits and watches them, deciding to at least try some of the things they do, but without much success.
But his friend Rosie has decided to sail to the island. Here she finds a dejected Rasmus who explains that the other dragons do not like him. She tells him that he is a dragon; he has all the things the other dragons have, but he is different because he has heart. Buoyed up by her words he decides to fly his kite and is gladdened when one of the dragons asks to play with his kite with him. He finds a friend without having to change but simply by being himself.
The soft watercolour illustrations evoke the love and support at the heart of the friendship between Rosie and Rasmus. The ferocious looks on the faces of the other dragons will win readers as they sympathise with the lonely Rasmus, trying hard to fit in. Readers of all ages will recognise the feeling of being left out, of not fitting in, of being expected to change to fit the image that others want, but will equally recognise that being yourself is the issue at heart.
For more information about Geddes see her fascinating website.
Themes: Friendship, Confidence, Fitting in, Being yourself, Self esteem, Mental health.