Photo courtesy of Pexels.com / Pixabay.com

Have you ever had the experience of reading a book a second time and receiving a different message than the first time?

When my son Tim was around six, one of his favorite picture books was The Knight and the Dragon (story and pictures by Tomie dePaola).

K&D was a story set in medieval times. It suddenly dawns on a nice young knight that he has never battled a dragon. Conveniently, at the same time it dawns on an equally nice dragon that he has never fought a knight.

The knight makes his way to the local library to check out books on dragon fighting. The dragon rummages around his cave to find books from his ancestors on the best ways to defeat a knight.

The knight builds his dragon-fighting armor and weapons while the dragon practices swishing his tail and making fierce dragon faces.

Their solo practice sessions don’t go very well. The knight rushes a wooden dummy dragon with his long lance which impales itself through a tree trunk. Mr. Dragon tries to breathe fire on a straw knight but misses and runs head-first into a rock and sets fire to some nearby bushes.

But they diligently practice for the fight and become quite proficient. They set a date for the battle. Each was determined to conquer the other. Sort of.

Happily (this is a children’s book after all), expertise deserted both of them. After several failed attempts, the dragon ended up in a pond while the knight was shoeless and hanging belly-flop style over a tree limb.

Can you guess who saved the day? Why, the local library lady, of course, who just happened to be going by on her horse-drawn book-filled cart.

She handed the dragon a book on outdoor cooking and gave the knight a book on building a Bar-B-Q.

The two became friends and opened K&D Bar-B-Q. The dragon used his fire-breathing ability to cook the meat to perfection while the knight used his former shields as serving platters.

We can only assume the friends lived happily ever after as they opened other successful restaurants located across the kingdom. Perhaps they even sold franchise rights.  

When I dug out this book to read to some kids recently, it struck me that this story has deeper meaning on several levels.

1) Life is better when we work with people instead of against them.

2) It’s great to be friends with a wide variety of people/dragons instead of people/dragons just like us.

3) Never underestimate the power of a good librarian.

4) A book has the ability to change your life.

5) Never let people or society or custom make you believe you have to think/do/be anything just because they say so.

Hmm…maybe it’s time for me to revisit Goodnight Moon to make sure there aren’t lessons that I missed there as well.