Children’s imaginations know no bounds, and here Allan Baillie captures their inventive language and mad-cap adventures with enormous vigour. These are matched by Jane Tanner’s equally playful illustrations. Imagine a child’s backyard transformed into the Mountain of the White Wizard where General Min (Minnie the Cat) is about to capture the White Wizard (butterfly) but foiled by Drac (young girl) and the Gremlin (young boy). Just at that moment, out of the jungle pounces the Terrible Tongued Dragon (dog) poised to destroy the White Wizard with his terrible tongue. Yet all is not lost as the Gremlin arrives on his Supersonic Jetbike (tricycle) and chases the Terrible Tongued Dragon (dog) away. Returning to their palace (home) these two adventurers are rewarded the highest honour, the Twin Crimson Cones of Tirnol Two (ice cream cones). Here ends a very clever, imaginative dual narrative where words and illustrations are at odds but finely attuned to children’s very active imaginations.
Jane Tanner’s illustrations are highly realistic and detailed. The lush ferns, scrubs and pot plants are finely textured and invite close inspection. They transform this ordinary backyard into an imaginary ‘quivering jungle’, ‘bubbling seas of poisonous fumes from a black volcano’ and more. The children are ‘armed’ with a paper roll and garbage can lid as they swoop astride their Anti-Gravity Solar-Powered Planet Hopper (tyre swinging from the tree). Their fertile imaginations transform everyday objects into whatever is required. Allan Baillie’s playful and inventive text captures a child’s sense of play while Jane Tanner’s perfectly attuned illustrations transform an ordinary lush backyard and all its inhabitants into a highly imaginative world. The story of ‘Drac and the Gremlin’ has been recorded and also performed as a play. It was the joint winner of the CBCA Picture Book of the Year in 1989, along with Graeme Base’s ‘The Eleventh Hour’.