Helen Docherty, The Knight Who Wouldn't Fight, illustrator Thomas Docherty

Scholastic, 2016, ISBN 978-1-407163-48-2

What a very beguiling picture book this is! Leo is a mouse who likes nothing better than to read. But his parents believe that as a knight he needs to change his priorities. They give him a sword and a shield and send him off to tame a dragon. On the way he meets a terrifying griffin and a petrifying troll. Both are pacified and charmed by the stories he reads to them. The dragon is an even more daunting creature, but he too succumbs to the power of the written word. He becomes a changed and lovable character. He even clears the piles of dragon poo he has deposited throughout the town. Leo returns to his parents' castle a hero. He's left in peace to read, and we see from the final picture that everyone else now enjoys stories too.

Leo is a delightful protagonist. Who could not love a mouse resourceful enough to flatter a dragon with Dragon Tales, or a troll with the Billy Goats Gruff (suitably adapted), or a griffin with Brilliant Beasts? This joyful homage to books and stories is written in verse, and begs to be read aloud. The language is sophisticated but the rhyme, rhythm and attractive illustrations make it easy to understand. A valuable addition to classrooms and libraries. Children will want to hear it over and over again, and to pore over it by themselves.