Reading aloud is a pleasure for both the listener(s) and the reader; a win-win relationship. In many a household the daily ritual of reading before bedtime is treasured by all. Invariably the reader will be asked to repeat the story for a variety of reasons, the story is loved, no one can read it as well as the reader or perhaps... the listener is stalling; putting off the inevitability of having to go to bed.
Emily Gravett's title, Again! (Macmillan Children's Books), released in October 2011, gives readers a glimpse into one particular dragon's bedtime practices. What they might not have imagined is how what he wants takes over his good sense. His burning desire to hear a story repeated repeatedly has unexpected results.
Cedric, a youthful dragon, has had a full day of play with his princess doll, flying, and sword swinging. His bedtime snack of dragon cookies and milk consumed, his teeth brushed and a bubble blowing bath finished, he pads hopefully, book in hand, to his mother. Curled in her embrace, his dragon blanket clutched tightly, he listens to his favorite story about a dragon named Cedric who:
His whole life,
(Not once) been to bed.
At this first reading storybook Cedric teases the trolls without mercy and hungrily consumes princesses. When youthful Cedric holds up the book imploringly questioning again, the second reading has an altered storyline; apologizing to the trolls and sharing dessert with them. Subsequent readings are much changed and quite a bit shorter until an exhausted mama dragon dozes off.
No amount of shouting or foot stomping will awaken her. Shaking the book, continued yelling and jumping up and down cause Cedric's temper temperature to rise. His final frustrated, ferocious AGAIN! flares up, opening up a surprise ending.
Emily Gravett begins the narrative visually on the front jacket flap, continuing on the front endpapers followed by a double set of verso and title page information (Again?). A careful reader will note that almost everything is identical except for the bath bubbles, a piece of punctuation and Cedric's expression.
Mint and lime green hues are prevalent throughout with rich reds, some golds and brown. All of the illustrations flow across two pages on the characteristic, for Gravett, heavy cream paper. Mood, especially that of the mother and the storybook trolls, is conveyed convincingly and with much humor.
As Cedric goes from contented to hopeful to willful to angry the text size changes as does the neatness of letter formation. With his anger increasing Cedric undergoes a color transformation accordingly. Gravett pictures the characters on the storybook's pages suffering his wrath looking like flakes in a shaken snowglobe.
I can not reap enough praise on the books artistically created by Emily Gravett; care given to detail is exquisite. Readers like Cedric will crave to read Again! again and again. Travel over to Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast to feast on an interview and partake of additional illustrations from other titles.