Cover image for Serious trouble
Serious trouble
Howard, Arthur.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
San Diego : Harcourt, 2003.
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 22 x 28 cm
Despite the objections of his very serious parents, Prince Ernest longs to become a jester, and this helps him in an encounter with a three-headed dragon.
Reading Level:
AD 490 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 2.6 0.5 71628.

Reading Counts RC K-2 2.5 1 Quiz: 35947 Guided reading level: K.
Electronic Access:
Publisher description
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Little Books
PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books

On Order



More than anything, Ernest wants to be a jester so he can make people laugh. But his parents, King Olaf and Queen Olive, are serious people with a very serious problem in their kingdom: a fire-breathing, people-eating, three-headed DRAGON. The last thing they feel like doing is having fun.
Can Ernest remain true to himself and save the kingdom? Find out in this sweet and silly story about the importance of following your dreams--from acclaimed picture book creator Arthur Howard.

Author Notes

ARTHUR HOWARD is best known as the illustrator of Cynthia Rylant's Mr. Putter & Tabby series. He is also the illustrator of Kathi Appelt's Bubba and Beau series and has written and illustrated three other picture books of his own. He lives in New York City.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

King Olaf and Queen Olive take life very seriously. But their young and inappropriately named son Ernest is quite another story. He is wont to swing on the chandelier, use a shield to skateboard down the banister, and dreams of being a jester when he grows up. Howard (Hoodwinked) opens his waggish story with a hilarious portrait of the royal family-he applies his exuberant marker line to the squat king's scowl and the lean Queen's long, dour visage (she's looking up from reading Extra Grimm Fairy Tales), while Ernest grins irrepressibly at readers. The drama unfolds when Ernest accidentally runs up against the comically lurid, three-headed dragon that's been menacing the kingdom-a beast so contentious that it can't even decide "what to call itself: Me, Us, or Hey You!" The aspiring jester strikes an agreement: the dragon will let the prince go if he can make the monster laugh. But Ernest's funny faces and flips go over like a lead balloon-until he triumphs with the oldest jest of all: tickling. The author falters when he tries to wrap up the story with three different endings (in one, Ernest is a convert to the importance of being earnest; in the other two, Ernest becomes a great entertainer). The ploy overextends the punchline, and the alternatives do not display the wit of the previous pages. But the drawings exude so much energy and glee that readers will cheer Ernest's victory, whatever form it takes. Ages 3-7. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

PreS-Gr 2-King Olaf and Queen Olive are serious rulers who read and say serious things, and they gave their son a serious name, expecting him to follow in their footsteps. Ernest, however, would rather be a jester than a king. Wearing an oversized boot on his head and armed with an umbrella, he goes jousting astride a hobbyhorse. His father warns that being king is no laughing matter, and that a "fire-breathing, people-eating, three-headed dragon" is on the loose. The boy sneaks out of the castle and straightaway meets the creature, "face-to-face-to-face-to-face." Ernest is tongue-tied; the dragon, "surprisingly talkative." The three heads (Snaggle, Snuffle, and Snide) bicker constantly as they attempt to settle his fate. When Snuffle admits that they "haven't laughed in a thousand years," Ernest extracts a promise: if he makes them laugh, they'll let him go. This slight story is a tad predictable, but it's told with goofy good humor. The exuberant cartoons, in brightly hued transparent watercolors, are full of comic detail. Children will giggle right up to the fitting conclusion of this lighthearted romp.-Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.