The Sunflower Sword

  • Interest Level: Preschool - Grade 3
  • Reading Level: Grade 2

In a land filled with fire and smoke and endless fighting, where knights fight dragons, there lives a little knight who wants to be big like the others, and fight like the others, and have a sword like the others. But his mother won’t let him. Instead of a sword, she gives him a sunflower, which, as it turns out, can be mightier than a sword.

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Interest Level Preschool - Grade 3
Reading Level Grade 2
Genre Picture Books
Publisher Andersen Press USA
Imprint Andersen Press USA
Language English
Publication Date 2014-08-01
Reading Counts! Level 3.6
Text Type Fiction
BISACS JUV002270, JUV051000, JUV037000
Dewey [E]
Graphics Full-color illustrations
Lexile 620
ATOS Reading Level 3.6
Accelerated Reader® Quiz 141847
Accelerated Reader® Points 0.5
Features Awards, Original artwork, and Reviewed

Author: Mark Sperring

Illustrator: Miriam Latimer


  • Washington Children's Choice Picture Book Award Nominee, Nominated, 2012
  • Children's Book Committee at Bank Street College Best Children's Book of the Year, Winner, 2012


The Horn Book Guide

“A ‘knight’ (a kid with a colander on his head) wants to fight dragons using a sword; his mom won’t let him. Her sunflower alternative is met with skepticism until the boy’s imagination takes over. Sperring may have a pacifist agenda, but the preachiness is refreshingly minimal. Latimer gives the child’s fantasy life a cartoonishly loose medieval treatment.” —The Horn Book Guide

Library Media Connection

“The book could be used for settling disputes and would be a useful tool to combat bullying. The protagonist and his mother are endearing characters, and the message of the book comes through loud and clear via the text and the illustrations. Recommended.” —Library Media Connection


“Brightly colored and full of action, the expressive illustrations feature an appealing little knight whose disarming features include the cowboy boots on his feet, the upside-down colander on his head, and the goat that serves as his steed. The message of peace arises from the story but remains secondary to the action. A small-scale adventure for other aspiring knights.” —Booklist

Kirkus Reviews

“A feel-good story for peace-loving families, it acknowledges the truism that boys tend to turn anything into weapons. Yet the symbolic dove on every page provides hope that one day, swords will be turned into plowshares. Or at least into a gift for a new friend.” —Kirkus Reviews

School Library Journal

“The cheerful patchwork illustrations painted in bright, springtime colors add touches of humor to the story…. Children will appreciate the idea that fighting is not the best alternative and that an enemy can become a friend.” —School Library Journal

Foreword Reviews

“What’s a little boy to do when he wants a sword to fight dragons with, and his mother says he may not have one? Instead, she gives him a sunflower, which whooshes and swooshes surprisingly well. Off he goes, to the top of Dragon Hill, where he slays three imaginary dragons with his sunflower sword. Just then, a real, fire-breathing dragon appears, and what happens next is testament to the beauty of changing one’s expectations.” —ForeWord Magazine