Friday, September 21, 2018

Liza Jane and the Dragon

By Laura Lippman

Illustrated by Kate Samworth
Akashic Books     2018
32 pages              Picture Book

Liza Jane is upset with her parents. Even though her life is excellent, with a canopy bed, pizza and a movie on Friday nights, and plenty of pretend dress-up clothes, Liza Jane feels put upon. She thinks her parents don’t listen to her or care about her feelings. So she fires them and hires a dragon who promises to do everything for her that her parents don’t do—like order pizza on nights other than Friday. However, the dragon doesn’t obey Liza Jane's commands perfectly, so she fires him and hires her parents back.

I read this book with 7-year-old Adela, my granddaughter, who is never hesitant to add her opinion to a discussion. We both felt that Liza Jane had to be 7-years-old. She thought Liza Jane sounded just like her, and I felt that Lippman got  7-year-old sassiness and sense of injustice down pat.  Adela and I were both only mildly intrigued by the plot line, and not at all sure why a dragon was who Liza Jane should have hired. The dragon is as sassy as Liza and absolutely as annoying as she is.

The illustrations are cute with Liza Jane and the dragon in bright colors and the background in sepia. Because of the sepia tones, I didn’t even notice the first time through that Liza Jane is biracial—her father is white, and mother is African American. This is definitely not a book about female empowerment, but basically about a bratty little girl and her bratty dragon.

In other words, I would not consider Liza Jane and the Dragon to be a necessary purchase. Cute but not essential.

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