7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #622: Featuring Ronan Badel

h1 January 20th, 2019 by jules


I’ve got a French picture book import for you today, dear Imps. This story, written by Alexandre Lacroix and illustrated by Ronan Badel, was originally published in 2014 and was translated by Vanessa Miéville. Dragons in Love (words & pictures/Quarto, January 2019) is all about the thrill (and maybe heartache) of first love.

This is the story of a little dragon named Drake. He often heads out of his cave, where he lives with his father, to play with the human children in the local playground. One day, “disaster struck.” One of Drake’s friends, Violet, kisses him on the snout. This is Drake’s first kiss, and he is left feeling “hot and confused.” Panicking, he flees. He is distraught that — despite liking the kiss (“In fact it felt soft”) — he can harm Violet if he were to ever kiss her back. He is a creature who breathes fire after all. He decides he’ll have to avoid Violet.


(Click either image to see spread in its entirety)


After confiding to his father, Drakes learns that he mustn’t feel ashamed. “When we dragons like someone,” his father tells him, “we breathe fire. It’s how we show our love.”


“‘When I was young, I also fell in love. I had just met your mom, and invited her to come for a walk one evening. We went to the pond. The sun had just set and the sky was dark. And in that perfect moment, I felt so much love for that I blew a tower of flames
so high that they burnt the stars above.'”

(Click to enlarge spread)


“This explained why Drake had breathed fire after Violet kissed him. But it was no answer to the little dragon’s worries! Definitely not! It may be what dragons did,
but Violet would never speak to him again!”

(Click to enlarge spread)


Drake still isn’t sure, but as he’s walking near the park one day, he sees a bully picking on Violet and decides to put that fiery breath to use. (The bully gets a bit singed.) On the final spread, we see Drake and Violet on the park bench, together again. When Violet points to her cheek and hints at a kiss, Lacroix asks readers if they can guess what Drake does next. The end. Readers get to decide for themselves how the story ends. (However, the final endpages, if you look closely and if you lift the dustjacket up, give one possible interpretation.)


“…’There’s no need to avoid me,’ she said. ‘I promise I’m not going to bite!’ Drake smiled. ‘Friends?’ he said. Violet nodded. ‘So, what are you waiting for?’ she asked, pointing to her cheek. And can you guess what Drake did next?”
(Click to enlarge spread)


Badel’s illustrations — similar in style to the artwork of Ole Könnecke, whose work I also love — capture facial expressions and body language especially well. There’s a lot of dry humor here. In one illustration, Drake relieves stress by removing himself from Violet and breathing out “a huge spray of sparks and flames.” A hapless bird is nearly burnt to a crisp by the flame, and underneath it all rides an elderly man with a helmet on a bike, looking up in bewilderment (and maybe a bit of annoyance.) Drake’s father lounges in a sleeveless tee shirt on another spread, his boxers hanging on a line behind him as he talks to his son. Each spread is filled with humorous details, and both author and illustrator manage to capture the awkward realities of first love. (Fun fact: A visit to the author’s website indicates there are two other titles with the same characters.)


(Click to enlarge cover)


DRAGONS IN LOVE. English language edition © 2019 Quarto Publishing plc. Original edition in French by Flammarion © Flammarion 2014. Translated by Vanessa Miéville. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, words & pictures/Quarto, Lake Forest, CA.

Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

1) I was sad to hear about Mary Oliver’s passing, but I’m filled with gratitude for the gifts she left her readers.

2) It has been quite the sight to see all the tributes to Oliver this week and people talking about how much her work meant to them.

3) This whole thing made me sick to my stomach, but it’s good to see the outpouring of outrage over such vile, despicable behavior.

4) Dinner with friends and good conversation.

5) Building a new 2019 playlist …

6) … and finding out Patty Griffin will soon release a new album. (I also didn’t know till this week that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer and has been taking time off for that, and I’m so glad she’s okay now.)

7) I am always grateful that my family has a roof over our heads and food on our table, but I’m especially aware these days, given the government shut-down and so many unemployed people trying to make ends meet, of how lucky we are. This tweet from Jacqueline Woodson includes ways we can all help. You can click on it to read more:

What are YOUR kicks this week?

6 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #622: Featuring Ronan Badel”

  1. Hi, I’ve been spacing on Sundays. I think this is a perfect book for all dragon lovers. Those facial expressions. Thank you, Badel.
    Jules, It’s been quite amazing to read all the Oliver tributes this week. It’s quite the loss.
    My kicks:
    1. Saw Andy Borowitz on Friday. He was great. Laughed so much. And he offered complimentary tickets to furloughed workers.
    2. Book club last week. Discussed Prairie Fires by Caroline Fraser. A fascinating book about Laura Ingalls Wilder.
    3. Finished Mary’s Monster by Lita Judge. It’s a CYBILS final.
    4. Started a writing class with the author, Emily Whitman.
    5. Writing re-energized.
    6. Walking.
    7. Daylight is arriving earlier.
    Have a great week.

  2. Fly by posting! Good morning, Imps and Ronan and that adorable dragon! I hope you are having a great day. Some quick kicks:

    1) Clear skies
    2) Clear eyes
    3) Rest
    4) Plans
    5) Music
    6) Kindness
    7) Compassion

  3. Drake is definitely an adorable dragon, I love these illustrations and the wonderful expressions on all of the characters, especially the illustration of the first kiss.

    Jules – dinner with friends with good conversation is always a kick, and the tributes to Mary Oliver have been wonderful to read. Do you ever make your playlists on Spotify?

    Jone – so jealous you got to see Andy Borowitz! Glad it was such fun! I’ve been hearing a lot about Prairie Fires, will have to put it on my to-read list. Big hooray for daylight coming earlier.

    LW – Loving all your kicks, especially Rest, Kindness and Compassion.

    My kicks this week:
    1) Getting a copy of The Lost Words by Robert MacFarlane and Jackie Morris for my nephews and 1 for myself. Such a beautifully illustrated book.
    2) My nephew loved the book Rhymoceros I sent him so much he asked to take it to school the next day.
    3) Busy work week, and thankfully productive, too.
    4) Finished watching The Newsroom, such a good series.
    5) Time for a much-overdue massage. Aaahhhhh.
    6) Sunday morning yoga.
    7) Getting to come home to sweet Daisy.
    7.5) Feeling hopeful.

    Have a wonderful week Imps!

  4. Thank you for sharing the work of Ronan Badel and how wonderful there are other books with the same characters. We can all use some laughter after this past week.

    I think it’s great you’re working on a playlist, Jules. I need some new music to write to.

    Jone: I love Lita Judge’s Mary’s Monster.

    Little Willow: We can all use more doses of kindness and compassion. Glad you had some.

    Rachel: Happy you enjoyed a massage. That sounds heavenly.

    My kicks this week:
    1. Lots of ILL books from the public library
    2. A trip to my favorite indie book shop
    3. Reading picture books
    4. During the bitter cold we have had clear blue skies
    5. Full moon magic
    6. Making new favorite soups
    7. Walking, playing and loving Mulan

    Have a great week everyone!

  5. Jone, enjoy your writing class. Writing being re-energized sounds good.

    LW: That’s one of your best kicks free verse poems yet!

    Rachel: Nope, I don’t use Spotify, but I probably should look into it. So glad you got The Lost Words. It’s gorgeous. Also, yay for Rhymoceros.

    Margie: What good, solid, lovely kicks. We actually got a tiny bit of snow this morning. Speaking of your fifth kick, maybe we can all see the super blood red moon tonight (or whatever it’s called).

    Have a good week, you all!

  6. This book looks absolutely adorable! Thanks for sharing these wonderful illustrations with us!

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