Herbert the Timid Dragon
Mercer Mayer ~ Golden, 1980
I've had Mayer on the mind again this week as I traded stoppingoffplace a vintage hard copy of Munari's Zoo for a hardcover of One Monster After Another, and it's been high in the rotation ever since. (Now that we have a hardcover, it means I'll be gifting our paperback edition on Monday, so stay tuned.) I never had this particular Mayer as a child. I might have been moving away from picture books by that time as I don't remember encountering it at all. It wasn't until someone mentioned it here (Chandra?) that I went out looking and ultimately ended up buying it online.
My son's a sucker for Mayer, but even more so for dragons, so this one was a nice fit. Birds, dinosaurs, mythical flying creatures, Harry Potter... that's my boy in a nutshell... though now Percy Jackson [Rick's from San Antonio and grew up in our neighborhood] and d'Aulaire's Book of Greek Myths and Spiderwick are finding themselves big parts of his adolescent imagination. I've never really been into science fiction or fantasy, but when we ventured into the adult fiction section the other day to look for a birthday present, he found a row of Piers Anthony books and almost imploded with excitement over the griffins and such on the covers. Now, I'm already picturing posters of semi-clad medieval women on his bedroom wall. (Shiver.) But, again, I digress. For now, the tales of a not-so-fearsome dragon named Herbert (ala The Reluctant Dragon) will have to suffice.
Herbert the Dragon lived in a snug cave at the edge of the forest wild. Every night at bedtime, Herbert read a story from his favorite book, KNIGHTS IN ARMOR. He loved the exciting tales of brave knights and princesses in distress. "I wish I were a brave knight in armor," thought Herbert. But Herbert wasn't brave. As a matter of fact, Herbert was rather timid. You might even say he was afraid of his own shadow.
His own shadow indeed, yet when he goes out in search of adventure, he meets a princess and becomes an accidental hero. Though it's around this period that I think Mayer begins to lose some of the depth in his drawings, Herbert's still pretty rad. Many people hold fond memories of him as a semi-animated Golden featurette, but to me, his real appeal sits on the page, just as busy and fun-filled as any Mayer ever was.
It's the details that delight... 'cause really, who wouldn't love a book by...
Liza Lou and the Yeller Belly Swamp
One Monster After Another
Professor Wormbog in Search for the Zipperump-A-Zoo
Me and My Flying Machine
Beauty and the Beast
A Special Trick
One Frog Too Many
How the Trollusk Got His Hat
Little Monster at Work
The Bird of Time
Read along on Facebook, Twitter and Etsy!