The Last Dragon by Jane Yolen and Rebecca Guay.
Release date: October 11, 2011, pre-order now! I got my advance copy via NetGalley.
It's hard to say whether I've read more "dragons are the enemy" or "dragons are our friends" books over my lifetime. Coming into this one, I wasn't sure which it would be, but it became clear enough quickly enough.
I was completely entranced by this book. Draw into the story by the artwork, I felt myself carried along by the story right until the end. The characters are fantastic, described in a few words and with just a few lines of dialogue then filled out with the art into recognizable people. Within a few pages I was feeling comfortable and at home in the village. The art successfully treads that thin line between being too fanciful to work in a graphic story and too explicit to work as fantasy. I was delighted throughout, and only wished that I had the hardcover in front of me instead of a pre-publication PDF so I could fully enjoy the double-page spreads.
There are moments when the action jolts from one scene to the next, or a character seems to know more than she ought. But those are few, and the fantastic artwork pretty much covers for any slight flaws in the writing, just as the strong writing covers for any slight flaws in the art. This is an exquisite work, and one that I would be honored to have on my bookshelf.