The King and the Dragon (Book Review)

The book pictured atop our sawHORSE.
  • Author: James W. Shrimpton
  • Illustrator: Helena Perez Garcia
  • Publisher: Crossway (Pre-Order Now)
  • Synopsis: Shrimpton’s delightful allegory sheds light on the story of Scripture, for young children.
  • Disclosure: I received a complimentary eARC of the book from the publisher, via NetGalley. Opinions conveyed are my own.

Scripture Connection

Spiritual Themes

The purpose of this book, as stated in the Note to Parents, is to demonstrate the cohesiveness of the Bible as “one unified narrative.” After all, “we often forget the story of the Bible.”

As such, The King and the Dragon presents a beautiful allegory, based on the story of God’s salvation of mankind. The book begins with Creation and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and proceeds with Jesus’ battle with the serpent, His death and victory.

What I Liked

Genre

Allegory is my favorite, because of the way it brings truth to life. Jesus, Himself, spoke in parables and this is a way the Lord speaks powerfully, to me. I am so delighted to read an allegory for such a young audience, since I often encounter allegories for slightly older readers.

Storyline

I liked the simple language and rhymes, which make the truth of Scripture readily accessible. This is important in children’s and adult’s books, alike, since Jesus calls us to receive the Kingdom of Heaven as children. Shrimpton does an excellent job of connecting and conveying the concepts found in the story of Scripture. For instance, he describes how Eve’s decision to listen to the serpent was a rejection of God, Himself, “The people all heeded the Dragon’s false call / Rejecting the King who created it all.” He then goes on to demonstrate how this decision laid the foundation for the dragon’s reign. Moreover, Shrimpton highlights the repercussions of submitting to the dragon: “He poisoned their hearts with shame and with lies.” What a succinct and powerful summary of what it means to have the dragon as a master!

Descriptions of sin and our need for reconciliation are also spot on: “The Knight must bring peace with the King we’ve defied; / We need to be fixed, since we’re broken inside.”

Illustrations

Helena Perez Garcia evokes a Medieval setting, through her illustrations. I think she did an excellent job capturing the wiliness of the dragon, particularly in the image of him trying to take the King’s throne. Plus, the use of lots of background RED, for illustrations of his false dominion, felt fitting. Indeed, color choices, throughout, really matched the book’s tone and action.

I enjoyed the human characters’ period costumes, and I liked the use of bright plants and flowers, throughout. Additionally, the front and back pages include swords, helmets, shields and flames, establishing the feel of the book, even before the story starts. Overall, I feel that the illustrations strongly complemented the story, bringing the rhyming narrative to life.

Respectful Critique

There was one page of the book that felt just a bit “works” oriented to me– not in the sense of proposing that works can save us, but in the sense of implying that, after we are saved, we have some work to do. There’s a line about how we need to “do more / to please the Good King…”, which is then followed up with a line about how He will help us.

As someone who is very sensitive to ideas like this, I would have liked to have seen, first, that God will help us.

Recommendation Status

There’s a lot to appreciate about this book: the allegorical interpretation, the succinct statements of truth and the vivid illustrations. I strongly resound with the need for books that remind us of the truth in Scripture. This book, like The Story of God with Us (one of my favorite books in 2021), does a great job of drawing out the large arc of Scripture. While I do recommend some reader discretion due to the one page I mentioned (especially if the book is being read aloud), there is much to commend!

Published by Stephanie Agnes-Crockett

Hi, there! My name is Stephanie and I’m a Fresno, CA native. After studying at Biola University, I received my MLIS (Masters in Library Science) from San Jose State University. I live with my mom, poet Kimberly Vargas Agnese, and serve as her unofficial agent. We reside at MeadowArc, a food forest in its infancy. I am called to, and passionate about, purity. In fact, the name Agnes means “pure.” Before I was born, my mom felt led to include the name Agnes in her name, and in the names of her children. My full, hyphenated name includes 26 letters (but not the whole alphabet).

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