________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIII Number . . . .February 17, 2017


The Little Knight Who Battled a Dragon.

Gilles Tibo. Illustrated by Geneviève Després. Translated by Petra Johannson.
Toronto, ON: Scholastic Canada, 2017.
32 pp., pbk., $8.99.
ISBN 978-1-4431-4861-0.

Preschool-grade 2 / Ages 4-7.

Review by Ellen Heaney.

*** /4


A strange booming noise and a display of flames disturb the villagers’ sleep. The little knight feels he must spring into action. His horse is a mechanical one, his shield and sword are made of wood, and an important part of his arsenal consists of something unusual.

The little knight filled his satchel with huge pieces of chocolate cake.
With the help of his friends he put on his new equipment. He climbed on
the old iron horse. Then, facing his destiny, he headed into the forest.
Each time the sky lit up, the old horse shook and tried to turn around.
Each time, the little knight whispered kind words and fed it huge
pieces of chocolate cake to calm it down.

     The little knight has to stop “more than ten times” to repair the horse. Critically, at the moment he confronts the dragon, the horse collapses into a pile of scrap metal.

     But now the story takes on a whiff of Aesop’s “The Lion and the Mouse”: the little knight sees that the dragon’s growling and display of fire are caused by pain. Her foot is caught in a trap. He goads her with insults into making herself dizzy, and when she is passive enough, he springs the trap and bandages her injured foot.

     The grateful dragon follows the knight, now astride a horse that has been rebuilt into a new configuration of nuts and bolts, back to where the villagers mount a celebration.

     The tale is told not only with blocks of text but with captions which describe many of the characters and illustrative details. For example, when the noise that wakes everyone is first heard, an array of villagers is shown with anxious faces and labels like:

Mr. Baxter trembles with fear
Mrs. Singer trembles with fear
The blacksmith’s moustache trembles with fear
Ms. Kitty’s glasses tremble with fear
The Singer triplets tremble with fear

     Later, when the little knight is entering the forest, various parts of the spread bear these captions:

The horse trembles with fear
The owl is frightened by the horse
A very friendly bat
Mysterious tree

     All of these additions to the narrative contribute a great deal of humour, as do Després’ meticulous and colourful drawings of every element of the story.

     Tibo is a long-established figure in the Canadian French-language children’s book field, having written and/or illustrated over seventy books for young people. The Little Knight Who Battled a Dragon was simultaneously published as Le Petit Chevalier qui Affrontait les Dragons. Després is a seasoned book illustrator and has won many awards for her art.

     As well as being suitable for one-on-one sharing, The Little Knight Who Battled a Dragon will be a satisfying experience for new readers who will enjoy exploring the pictures and words in each scene.


Ellen Heaney is a retired children’s librarian living in Coquitlam, BC.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.

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