AtoZ: V is for Vegetarian Dragon by Debbie Harter

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Moving right along in the A to Z Challenge!

Today we have:

V

V is for Vegetarian Dragon

A goofy dragon to counteract yesterday’s terrifying one.  This is Herb, the Vegetarian Dragon, in a children’s picture book illustrated by Debbie Harter, published by Barefoot Books in hardcover in 1999, and in paperback in 2007.

The story of Herb is written by Jules Bass, noted on the book’s website as “the ‘Bass’ in Rankin/Bass Animated Entertainment, New York, producers of such films as The Hobbit (Peabody Award), The Last Unicorn, [and] Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

Here’s the synopsis that I found for the story from the Amazon.com site where you can also purchase the book:

All the dragons in the forest of Nogard like nothing better than raiding Castle Dark and carrying off princesses to eat — all the dragons, that is, except one. Herb is at his happiest tending his vegetable patch, for Herb is a vegetarian. So it is unfortunate that he is the one captured by the castle’s knights in armor. Treacherous Meathook and his dragon cronies will only help Herb if he agrees to eat meat — will he give in to their blackmail?

Jules Bass’s lighthearted story combines with Debbie Harter’s jaunty illustrations to make this a hilarious picture book that also offers young readers plenty of food for thought.

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As you can see, Herb does have quite the garden.  In case you can’t read this page, here is the text:

But one dragon was different.  While Meathook and his friends sat in his cave planning their next raid, Herb was happy to tend his vegetable patch.  Sometimes a little girl came to watch him.  He grew turnips and tomatoes, leeks and lettuce, cauliflowers and carrots.  He grew peas and parsnips, red and yellow peppers, potatoes and parsley.  For Herb was a vegetarian.

The illustrations are colorful, and according to the reviews, the story is really about staying true to oneself and not being afraid of being different, as much as it is about being a vegetarian.  The ‘little girl’ mentioned above has a hand in saving the day, as well.

I myself am not a vegetarian, but I think I’d still recommend this cute book for anyone looking for a dragon picture book.  Giving kids exposure to other lifestyles can only help promote tolerance, and it’s not uncommon for many kids to have differing diets based on allergies and other factors.

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This page reads:

As this was happening, Herb was cooking a new soup made of butter leeks, onions and potatoes.  “Mmmm,” he smiled, licking his lips.  “Very tasty. I must give it a name.  ‘Herb’s Famous [something] Veggie Slurp.'”

Herb didn’t realise that he was in danger, that when the knights set out, he would be the only dragon to be seen in all of Nogard forest.

Ack, I can’t find a clearer picture of this page, so I can’t read what Herb has named his “slurp.”  Apologies.

One of the more interesting things I noticed about this book was that while it has a good review from the School Library Journal, as one would expect, there is also another review from a noted vegetarian that quite stands out:

“A magical read for all new readers, young and old; Herb’s story tells the tale of the future.”
— Sir Paul McCartney

For more information about Herb, you can visit the websites above. A companion book was  released called Cooking with Herb the Vegetarian Dragon, also available from Barefoot Books, which also looks good.

More cute is coming your way tomorrow for the letter W — and don’t forget to tune in later tonight for my entry for the day’s Discover Challenge!  Take care, and stay creative!

Image credits:
Book cover, Herb the Vegetarian Dragon

Inside pages, Herb the Vegetarian Dragon

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