Friday, September 4, 2020

Freeform Friday: A Bill Peet Trio

I recently found and fell in love with all things Bill Peet.  Here are my thoughts on a few of his books, specifically: How Droofus the Dragon Lost His Head, Cyrus the Unsinkable Sea Serpent, and Chester the Wordly Pig.

Summary: Droofus the kindly dragon has a price on his head, but the small boy who befriends him refuses to sell him to the king.  (Summary and Image from

My Review:  I feel like I've been living under some kind of reading rock.  I can't believe I made it to 40-years-old before hearing about Bill Peet.  My children found this book during the summer on the porch of one of our city's school librarians. She had a huge shelf set up on her porch for kids to take and bring back whatever they wanted.  My kids left with a giant stack of interesting books, but this one was the hands-down favorite.  

How Droofus the Dragon Lost His Head is the adorable tale of a young dragon who gets separate from his family.  He settles down in a forest cave and can't quite bring himself to eat the animals, so he begins to eat the grass instead. Overtime, Droofus grows into quite the big dragon and his flights draws the attention of the king, who wants to capture him and mount his head on the wall.  

Now, lest you worry that I'm reading a book about dragon decapitation to my kiddos, I'm going to spoil things for you.  Do not worry. No one gets beheaded.  

Many try to find the dragon for the king, but none are successful until he is caught in a terrible storm and crash lands, battered and broken, in a farmer's field.  The farmer's young son (who previously had a little run-in with Droofus) recognizes the dragon's gentle nature and cares for him.  Soon Droofus is feeling better and repaying their kindness by helping with the farm work.  Eventually, word reaches the king and he pays the farmer's a visit, intending to buy the dragon, lop his head off, and mount it on his wall.  The family refuses to sell the beloved dragon, so the king comes up with an creative idea that ends well for everyone.  Overall, the story highlighted kindness as it' main message and that is a message we all need.  

Aside from the charming story, I absolutely loved Bill Peet's illustrations (see example below).  He definitely has a recognizable style and the book would not be the same without them.  Droofus the dragon is delightfully emotive and the accompanying artwork is filled with colorful scenery, tiny animals, people, and other little details to examine.  I think the book is leveled for readers age 4-7, but my 8-year old loved it and it was thoroughly engaging for even this adult reader. I'd recommend it to anyone, but especially those who are looking for an engaging bedtime story with a subtle moral message. 

How Droofus the Dragon Lost His Head by Bill Peet

If you'd like a preview, or to see the word count and illustrations for yourself you can check out a read-aloud video here.

My Rating: 4.5 Stars

For the Sensitive Reader: No worries. No one loses their head.


134098Summary:  A shark accuses Cyrus of cowardice because he won't sink any ships. The kindly sea serpent almost succumbs to peer pressure, but learns at last to be himself.  (Summary and Image from

My Review:  Cyrus the sea serpent was getting a little bored wandering around the ocean.  He wanted some excitement  -- some adventure -- in his life! At a shark's suggestion, Cyrus thinks about wrecking some ships but when he gets a look at the Primrose's passengers he can't go through with it.  He follows at a distance and soon realizes the ship is in trouble.  When the ship is stuck in doldrums, Cyrus puffs wind into the sails at night, and when the ship begins to founder in a storm, Cyrus takes a deep breath and buoys it up with his own body.  He is unsinkable!  And so the story continues, as Cyrus saves the Primrose passengers from pirates and tows their crippled ship to safety, before slinking off to a deserted island for a well-deserved nap.

This story is just too cute.  I loved that Cyrus couldn't bring himself to smash ships and eat the passengers, and instead, was worried about them once he heard about the dangers they would face on their journey.  He was also aware how his appearance might scare them and so kept his distance while ensuring they would make it safely back to dry land.  Like DroofusCyrus comes with its own subtle moral message about standing up to peer pressure and helping those in need.  Additionally, Bill Peet's illustrations are simply masterful -- colorful, imaginative, and utterly captivating.  Even as a full-grown adult, I could look at them for days.  I've been reading a lot of Bill Peet these days, and this is one of my favorites.

My Rating:  4.5 Stars

For the Sensitive Reader:  All clear.


890174Summary:  Chester longs to be a performer in the circus, but the road to stardom is rocky until someone discovers Chester's true "wordliness."  (Summary and Image from

My Review: Chester the pig knows he is made for more than a life on the farm where he is destined for the dinner plate. When a circus poster appears on the barn wall, Chester gets a brilliant idea.  He will learn to balance on his nose!  Surely that will get him noticed.  Climbing the farm fence and balancing on one's snout is not as easy as you might think, but Chester perseveres and eventually manages to do it!  However when the circus train passes by the farm, no one even notices the balancing pig, so Chester decides he'll have to follow them and sets off down the tracks.  He has no idea the adventure that awaits him! Once Chester catches up, the pig performs his balancing act on a tent stake and is invited to join the circus.  At first, Chester enjoys being a part of the show, but when he is thrown into a cage with five terrifying tigers, dressed like a baby, and crammed into a clown's carriage, he decides its time to give the circus the slip. The pig bides his time and jumps from the circus train only to come face to face with a savage bear and three pork-hungry hobos who stuff him into a sack. Eventually, Chester manages to get away and wanders into a big city and then out into the farmlands where finds his home with a farmer (who is more than willing to fatten up a free pig).  As the years go by, Chester grows in size and is about to be slaughtered when a passing carnival van is his salvation.  You see, there is something incredibly special about Chester that will guarantee his place in the spotlight for years to come (and I'm not going to spoil it for you)!

Chester the Worldly Pig is a sweet story about a pig with big dreams that don't quite work out the way he planned.  It also carries a subtle message about developing talents and overcoming obstacles.  
As always, Peet's illustrations are visually stunning, plentiful, and bound to fascinate readers of any age.   Even though my youngest is eight, I have several more of his books headed my way right now.  I just can't get enough Bill Peet.

My Rating: 4.5 Stars

For the Sensitive Reader: Chester does almost get eaten a few times....

No comments:


Related Posts with Thumbnails