Hush, Little Dragon: A Picture Book Review

Hush, Little Dragon by Boni Ashburn, illustrated by Kelly MurphyMy first thought upon seeing Hush, Little Dragon (2008) by Boni Ashburn, illustrated by Kelly Murphy, my first thought was, “Those are some cute dragons on that cover. I must read this book.” The book is illustrated by Kelly Murphy and written by one Boni Ashburn. I will be the first to admit the immaturity of my observation, but my initial reading of her name was “Boney Ash Burn” and I actually thought she might be using a pen name (I don’t think that is the case anymore).

Anyway, Hush, Little Dragon is based on an English lullaby called “Hush, Little Baby” which some readers might know. It begins with the the lyrics

“Hush, little baby, don’t say a word, Papa’s gonna buy you a mockingbird. And if that mockingbird don’t sing, Papa’s gonna buy you a diamond ring.”

though I have heard it sung more often with references to Mama. (Wikipedia has an entry for the song including full lyrics.)

As far as lullabies go, “Hush, Little Baby” is pretty tame (what with the lack of babies in tree tops or what not). It’s also one of my favorites. That is, perhaps, why I was ill prepared to fully enjoy this parody of that song.

The book starts:

“Hush, little dragon, don’t make a sound. Mama’s gonna bring you a princess she found. If that princess runs from you, Mama’s gonna bring you a knight or two.”

The story goes on in that vein, with the mother bring her baby dragon various townspeople to eat, until the big finish when she decides they might have overstayed their welcome.

I love the illustrations, and I loved the idea. But I couldn’t quite love Hush, Little Dragon as a whole, perhaps because there was something so incongruous about reading a book about eating people (albeit by dragons, which is what they naturally do) to the tune of a lullaby. I suspect that children who like dragons will not have my problem and will flat out adore this book much in the same way I was able to adore The Nightmare Before Christmas in my youth only to find it unbelievably creepy (though still sort of neat) at the age of twenty-three.