Happy Book Birthday to There’s a Dragon in My Closet! The latest offering from the Denene Millner Books imprint, penned by Dorothea Taylor and illustrated by Charly Palmer, is in stores today.

Charly’s lush, colorful illustrations bring to life this funny and engaging tale of a little boy who blames sweet surprises and mischievous behavior on an invisible, mysterious guest only he knows exists: the friendly, goofy, troublemaking dragon in his closet. Three cheers for invisible friends—and especially the beauty of Black children’s imaginations, celebrated in these pages.

You KNOW we got you with the “Good Night, MyBrownBaby” presentation of “Dragon.” Totally Lila and I will be bringing you a Facebook live reading on Tuesday, August 15 at 7 p.m. Just follow me on the MyBrownBaby Facebook page and bring the babies!

Here’s a funny: I went to the art studio of Charly, an artist I adore (seriously, his work is amazeballs), sometime last year to ask him if he’d illustrate a book I had in mind. We sat and talked for hours about art, passion, inspiration and process, and then, when I told him my goals for the imprint—specifically my desire to create beautiful stories celebrating the humanity of Black boys—Charly snapped his fingers and was all, “Wait, you know what? I wrote a picture book with my ex about eight years ago. It’s in a box somewhere in here.” Five minutes later, he hands me an early version of “There’s a Dragon in My Closet,” this perfectly delicious jewel of a book with a knock-out story I’d never, ever seen before: a Black boy engaging with a dragon. 

Bruh: when have you EVER seen a book featuring a Black boy and a dragon? I’ll tell you when: NEVER. Until now. Because we know that Black boys are just like any other little boy: they’re playful, nutty, they have active imaginations and they did dinosaurs and dragons. And we’re celebrating all of this in “There’s a Dragon in My Closet,” a playful story told in prose by Dorothea Taylor and expertly illustrated by Charly, who created a chocolate drop of a little boy with funky hair and big ol’ eyes—a little boy who may look just like yours or someone you know. I couldn’t be more proud of this work.

That’s because There’s a Dragon in My Closet gives a rare glimpse into the simple, beautiful every day life of an African American boy whose sweet, energetic personality is reminiscent of Ezra Jack Keats’s iconic character, Peter.

Readers will get a kick out of the book’s main character as he gets into a series of harmless pickles and explains away the messes to his skeptical parents. They’ll also appreciate the warm, loving relationships between the little boy and his dragon, as well as the boy and his mother, a nurturer who gives her son space to let his imagination soar. The appearance of the dragon, big and powerful but vulnerable, is a precious reveal that will leave readers rooting for the friendship, and wondering if the animal truly is a figment of his little friend’s imagination.

This funny, engaging story highlights:

  • The wonder of friendship and the power of imagination
  • The importance of playful mischievousness on childhood development
  • A lush, colorful, rare main African American male character reminiscent of Ezra Jack Keats’ “Peter”

There’s a Dragon in My Closet is a salute to mischievous little boys and the imaginary friends that sprinkle giggles and create a few pickles on the most ordinary days.

Buy “There’s a Dragon in My Closet” on Barnes & Noble, Amazon, in your favorite independent book stores and anywhere else books are sold.

Congratulations Dorothea and Charly! I’m super proud of the work we’ve done!

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Denene Millner

Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.

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