Kenny & the Book of Beasts: Kenny & the Dragon, Book 2

Book review by
Carrie Kingsley, Common Sense Media
Kenny & the Book of Beasts: Kenny & the Dragon, Book 2 Book Poster Image
Rabbit and friends' adventures make for fast, fun sequel.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Some advanced vocabulary ("stomachache," "chauffeur") and a lot of advice about friendships and emotional growth.

Positive Messages

Stand up for your friends, don't be afraid to admit your mistakes and make amends. Goodbye is the other half of hello.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Kenny's parents model compassion and great communication, letting him be himself and learn his own lessons and while being there to support him.

Violence & Scariness

Mild peril when the friends are attacked, but the danger is appropriate even for the youngest readers


What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Kenny & the Book of Beasts, the second book in a fantasy series by Tony DiTerlizzi (The Spiderwick Chronicles), is a fast-paced, warmhearted adventure with some great life lessons and lots of fun. The story, loosely based on The Reluctant Dragon, by Kenneth Grahame (The Wind in the Willows), turns on Kenny's hurt feelings and the possible loss of his best friend, Grahame the dragon. When Grahame's long-lost friend Dante reappears, Kenny's reactions allow for some great advice from Kenny's dad and friends about handling sadness, anger, forgiveness, and more. DiTerlizzi shows readers a great respect by focusing the adventure and not blowing minor subplots out of proportion for an easy bit of drama. There's some challenging vocabulary for younger readers ("stomachache," "beastiary," "chauffeur"), and DiTerlizzi's own warm, detailed illustrations appear throughout this delightful escapade.

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What's the story?

In KENNY & THE BOOK OF BEASTS, the second in Tony DiTerlizzi's animal-centered fantasy series, young rabbit Kenny inherits a beloved bookshop when its owner, Kenny's mentor and friend Sir George E. Badger, is called to work with the king and queen. But when Kenny and his best friend Grahame the dragon bring George to the palace, they find themselves face to face with an evil opossum, Eldritch Nesbit, who has captured all the mystical creatures in her magic book. Kenny accidentally lets one of the creatures free, a manticore named Dante. (He's called a manticore -- a mythical beast with a lion body, a human head, and a scorpion tail -- but he has a lion's head.) Dant's old friendship with Grahame makes Kenny jealous. But when Kenny's actions put Grahame and Dante in danger, he must decide what kind of friend he really wants to be.

Is it any good?

Kenny's parents are a lovely example of unconditional support while also providing structure, limits, expectations, and advice in Tony DiTerlizzi's warm, fun, adventure-packed fantasy sequel. The rabbits have mature, honest conversations with Kenny, whether about his car, his chores, or his friendships. Kenny & the Book of Beasts offers a model for navigating many of the complex feelings of friendship, loyalty, and insecurity that readers are feeling in their own lives. There's an important moment in the early chapters that sets the tone of the story, when Kenny and his friends walk away from an exciting activity because its stereotyping of dragons made Grahame feel bad. This scene has likely played out in readers' lives in different ways, and Kenny's support offers some tools for standing up for what's right. There's lots of magic and warmth here, and even the moments of danger and worry are mild enough for young readers.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the friends navigated the changes they faced in Kenny & the Book of Beasts. How have your friendships changed over the years? Who have you had to say goodbye to, and who have you said hello to?

  • Have you ever felt like you don't fit in with your friends anymore? What has helped make things better?

  • What other fantasy books have you enjoyed?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love fantasy and animal adventures

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