By Jaime Hernandez. Published by Toon Books.
Hardcover, 48 pages, Colour, 2018.
A fresh take on timeless tales! How would a kitchen maid fare against a seven-headed dragon? What happens when a woman marries a mouse? And what can a young man learn from a thousand leaf cutter ants? Famed Love and Rockets creator Jaime Hernandez asks these questions and more as he transforms beloved myths into bold, stunning, and utterly contemporary comics. Guided by the classic works of F. Isabel Campoy and Alma Flor Ada, Hernandez’s first book for young readers brings the sights and stories of Latin America to a new generation of graphic novel fans around the world.
Jaime Hernandez is the co-creator, along with his brothers Gilbert and Mario, of the comic book series Love and Rockets. Since publishing the first issue of Love and Rockets in 1981, Jaime has won an Eisner Award, 12 Harvey Awards, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. The New York Times Book Review calls him "one of the most talented artists our polyglot culture has ever produced." Jaime decided to create The Dragon Slayer, his first book for young readers, because "I thought it would be a nice change of pace from my usual grown-up comics." He read through tons of folktales to choose these three. What made them stand out? Maybe he saw himself in their characters. Jaime says, "I'm not as brave as the dragon slayer, but I can be as caring. I'm as lazy as Tup without being as resourceful. I am not as vain as Martina, but I can be as foolish."
Finalist for 2019 Excellence In Graphic Literature Award, Best in Children's Graphic Literature (Fiction)!
★ A New York Times Editors' Choice ★
"The buoyant results will delight all ages."
--The New York Times
★ NPR 2018 Great Reads ★
★ A Junior Library Guild Gold Standard ★
★ "A trio of Latin American folktales are given a makeover in the children's-book debut of one of the brothers behind famed graphic-novel series Love and Rockets...In his six-panel pages, Hernandez flexes his considerable storytelling skills, his deceptively simple art conveying all the detail, nuance, and expression of character each story needs...In addition to the tales themselves, the book opens with an on-point essay by author F. Isabel Campoy putting the mix of Spanish and Native American influences in context...María E. Santana's simultaneously publishing Spanish-language translation is identical in look but far from dry, flawlessly employing its own language quirks. Rousing tales, spirited artwork, and rich backmatter ensure that this slim graphic novel for kids becomes a rich resource for all caregivers, not just those of Latinx children."
--Kirkus Reviews STARRED REVIEW
"With its eye-catching design, appealing cover, and its spirited stories, you may have to pry this entertaining and informative book from the hands of children."
--Julie Danielson's "Four Favorites" on the Kirkus blog
A review specifically about our Spanish-language editions:
"La Matadragones collects three classic Latin American folktales in comics format. The titular tale starts with the magical words 'Había una vez' ('Once upon a time . . . .') and tells a feminist fantasy story about a girl who makes her own destiny and slays a dragon for her prince. Next up is 'Martina Martínez y El Ratoncito Pérez,' which many Latinx might recognize as 'La Cucarachita Martina.' This story also ends with the 'colorín colorado, este cuento se ha acabado' a beloved, familiar refrain. The final tale is 'Tup y las Hormigas,' which doesn’t celebrate valor, compassion, or other typical folk morals, but rather intelligence and creative thinking. Hernandez' lively, full-color cartoon artwork vividly brings the stories to life. As educational as it is entertaining, this is perfect for folklore lovers of all ages."
"One of the best folktale and fairy tale-based comics I've seen...The Dragon Slayer is a sweet, short burst of smart, loving comics, and comes highly recommended."
"Folktales can transcend space and time and, as this title proves, genres too."
--Horn Book Magazine
"This beautifully designed collection, with amiable art in lovely full color, is perfect for bedtime read-aloud or a lesson on traditional folktales."
"Fairy tales with brown heroes and heroines are rare, and these stories are full of unexpected twists."
"These delightfully rendered stories should easily find a home in the folktale/fairy-tale section of any library."
--School Library Journal
"It’s a perfect work for adults who grew up on Love and Rockets to share with their children, and it’s an equally perfect introduction to the rich folklore immediately to the south of the U.S."
--Good Comics for Kids on the SLJ Blog
"Campoy’s introduction, and the tales’ origins and bibliography, including art reproductions, in the back matter, combine to enrich understanding of the culture of these strong heroines and heroes. Hernandez’s vivid illustrations make the tales modern, relatable and universal."
--Youth Services Book Review Massachusetts
" 'The Dragon Slayer' stood out," Hernandez said. "It's a princess story but the princess has to do everything. She was Cinderella but she had to work to get everything she wanted. She reminds me of my [Love and Rockets] character, Maggie. She always wants to fix things."
--Calvin Reid interviewed Jaime Hernandez for Publishers Weekly.
Click to read the whole interview! >>
“I like getting cartoony when it comes to kids, because the drawings are more alive. They bust out more, they create a life of their own.”
--Gil Roth interviewed Jaime Hernandez for the Virtual Memories Show podcast.
Click to listen to the whole interview! >>
"You can still want the prince, but she’s in charge through the whole thing. That’s what I liked about it. It’s kind of like how I treat my comics. My character Maggie has no superpowers, she’s a pretty weak person most of the time, and yet she’s the one who has to take care of everything. I’ve always liked that kind of character, powerless yet they survive. That’s how I saw 'The Dragon Slayer.' "
--Alex Deuben interviewed Jaime Hernandez for Smash Pages.
Click to read the whole interview! >>
"I absolutely love this introduction to Latin American folktales, and can only hope there’s a volume 2 somewhere down the line. This is such a great addition to folk and fairy tale collections and diverse, culturally rich collections."
--Mom Read It
"Despite its notable lack of explosions, The Dragon Slayer will entice kids and parents alike to join the parade on its cover."