Tuesday, 19 July 2016

The Great Dragon Bake Off, by Nicola O'Byrne

At the Ferocious Dragon Academy, dragons-in- training learn the arts of bone crunching and teeth sharpening. But there is one dragon who harbours a passion for a most unlikely Dragon pastime…
Meet Flamie Oliver.
To look at, Flamie is as terrifying as a dragon can get. But behind closed doors, Flamie is...
...a stupendously spectacular Star Baker! That's right – choux, rough, salty, sweet and puff – Flamie loves it all. In fact, he loves baking so much that his studies at the Ferocious Dragon Academy are starting to suffer, and there's a chance he won't graduate! Flamie's going to need a real showstopper to get out of this one.

It's no secret that I'm partial to a picture book- ESPECIALLY ones about dragons or crocodiles. So. Imagine how pleased I was to discover Flamie Oliver- the dragon with an abundance of baking skills and nobody with whom to share the fruits of his confectionery labour. He's studying at the Ferocious Dragon Academy, learning to rustle sheep, fight knights and kidnap princesses- but Flamie's heart isn't in it. All he wants to do is bake.

With the return of the immensely, inexplicably, unstoppably popular Great British Bake Off returning to our screens soon (it's normally the first or second week in August- can't find a *specific* date) this books could not be more timely or more effective in building that spongey suspense. Personally, I'm an awful, awful baker, so am always insanely impressed by the absolute kitchen wizards on the show, and obviously, of course, with Flamie too.

This is absolutely my favourite page. BIG FAN of bread and this is my dream buffet.

I loved the little in jokes for Bake Off viewers (and for Harry Potter fans too)

It's not just me thinking that this scene bears a striking dragony resemblance to a very familiar
quidditch pitch, a scaly McGonagall and a tower-full castle in the background?

It's a lovely, characterful book filled with brief but funny characters, a cannot-emphasise-this-enough message about how it's ok if you don't fit in with everyone else, share the same hobbies, interests and enthusiasms- because we are all different and have our own unique skills. I know this is a popular message with picture books and always has been, but there is literally no such thing as overdoing this message.

I loved the joyful, rainbow illustrations too. I'm an absolute sucker for colouring pencil illustration. You can see the work that goes into every single line and every little speck of colour.

I think we just need a reminder of Luis' 2014 creation here. It feels right.

Many thanks to Lizz Skelly at Bloomsbury Children's book for the review copy

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