Sonderbooks Stand-out

Sonderbooks Book Review of

The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors

by Drew Dawalt

pictures by Adam Rex


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The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors

by Drew Dawalt
pictures by Adam Rex

Review posted December 21, 2017.
Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins), 2017. 48 pages.
Starred Review
2017 Sonderbooks Stand-out: #2 Picture Books

Okay, this book is tremendously silly. And way too much fun!

The idea is not surprising, and doesn’t, actually, sound like a great story: A tale of three fierce warriors who couldn’t find anyone to defeat them until they found each other – and so the tribute game of Rock Paper Scissors began. I mean, we all know that anthropomorphizing inanimate objects is problematic at best. (I’m not even much of a fan of the author’s previous bestselling picture book, The Day the Crayons Quit.)

But the execution of this idea is absolutely brilliant! It won over even me.

I think it’s the over-the-top breathless announcer-voice language which begs to be read aloud that wins me over:

Long ago, in an ancient and distant realm called the Kingdom of Backyard, there lived a warrior named ROCK. Rock was the strongest in all the land, but he was sad because no one could give him a worthy challenge.

Rock traveled to the mysterious Forest of Over by the Tire Swing, where he met a warrior who hung on a rope, holding a giant’s underwear.

“Drop that underwear and battle me, you ridiculous wooden clip-man!”

“I will pinch you and make you cry, Rock Warrior!”

ROCK versus CLOTHESPIN!

Rock is victorious!

Next Rock battles Apricot, which cries out, “I will beat you, Rock, with my tart and tangy sweetness!”

After he wins, Rock poignantly proclaims, “And yet, smooshing you has brought me no joy.” He leaves the Kingdom of Backyard still in search of a worthy foe.

Next, we enter the Empire of Mom’s Home Office where a second great warrior named Paper seeks the glory of battle. In delightfully silly, yet written oh-so-seriously, Paper defeats Computer Printer and Half-Eaten Bag of Trail Mix. Where can Paper find an opponent who can give him a good battle?

Then, of course, in the Kitchen Realm, in the tiny village of Junk Drawer, there lived a third great warrior. My favorite battle in the entire book is Scissors versus dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets.

I have come from the far reaches of Kitchen to battle you, O bizarre and yummy breaded dinosaurs!

Bow before our child-pleasing shapes and flavors, sword master!

No one can resist our crunchy awesomeness!

When these three fierce warriors encounter each other, you know how the battles turn out!

And the three great warriors hugged each other and danced for joy, and they became fast friends. Finally, they had each met their matches. They were so happy, in fact, that they began to battle again….

The illustrations in this book are partly what makes it so perfect. They’ve got drama and seriousness making these epic battles ever so silly. This book was a huge hit when I booktalked it to younger elementary grades. I had all kinds of fun reading it to the classrooms, and it was then checked out all summer. Older preschoolers may enjoy it, too – especially if they have ever played Rock Paper Scissors.