Thursday, October 27, 2011

Review: THE SUNFLOWER SWORD by Mark Sperring

Sperring, Mark. The Sunflower Sword. Illus. Miriam Latimer. Minneapolis: Andersen Press USA, 2011. ISBN: 978-0-7613-7486-2. $16.95. Ages 4-8.

An adorable tale about a boy whose mother gives him a sunflower in place of a sword, The Sunflower Sword is full of imagination and fun, while it also challenges our assumptions. Sperring and Latimer’s colorful picture book follows the little knight (who wears a colander as his helmet) as he whooshes and swooshes his sunflower slaying imaginary dragons atop Dragon Hill. When the little knight encounters a real, fire-breathing dragon with only his sunflower (and colander) as protection, he is surprised to discover that dragons can be even better as playmates than as prey. Soon, the other knights take up sunflowers in place of their swords, while the little knight’s mother smiles at the peaceful change she and her son inspired. This delightful, playful story will bring a smile to children and adults alike.

Emily Moore 

Once upon a time, in a land of knights and dragons, a little knight wanted to be big and fight dragons with a sword. But instead of a sword, his mother gives him a sunflower “to whoosh and swoosh in the air.” The little knight whooshes and swooshes his way all the way to Dragon Hill, where he slays three imaginary dragons! But one day, he meets a real dragon – suddenly his sunflower sword doesn’t seem as powerful! Or perhaps, it’s even more powerful than he can imagine, as the dragon, flattered by being offered a flower, befriends the little knight, setting a precedent for all the other knights in the kingdom to lay down their armaments.

Sperring and Latimer’s tale is delightful. The little knight’s story reflects the idea that honey is more effective than vinegar, and that friendship is stronger than war, but without becoming cloy or cliché. The illustrations are bright, colorful, and playful and even the font choice fits perfectly with the story. The bright red, many-toothed dragon has an endearing shape and face, particularly when he’s holding the tiny sunflower! The book is whimsical and cheerful – the perfect combination of excellent illustrations and a down-to-earth fairy tale story.

Marisa Behan

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