My Father’s Dragon (The Tales of My Father’s Dragon Series #1)
Ruth Stiles Gannett (Juvenile Fantasy)
Elmer Elevator wants to fly more than anything in the world and will do whatever it takes to have that chance. He soon gets his wish when a wet alley cat tells him of an imprisoned baby dragon held on Wild Island. Soon, Elmer has packed his knapsack and secretly stowed away on a ship headed to the Island of Tangerina. But Wild Island is dangerous and no one has ever come back alive from it. No one except for a wet alley cat. Loaded up with some lollipops, hair ribbons, rubber bands, an empty grain sack, and a few other inconsequential items, Elmer is off on the adventure of a lifetime, but can he survive the dangers of Wild Island AND rescue the dragon? For a chance to fly, it’s a risk he’s willing to take.
My Father’s Dragon is the first in The Tales of My Father’s Dragon series by Ruth Stiles Gannett. It’s a short and fanciful story showcasing the cleverness and ingenuity of a young boy that is retold by his son. At seventy-four pages, it’s a fast read full of slapstick scenarios and delightful dilemmas. The book has a recommended reading age of 8 to 12, but if it’s read aloud, younger readers can enjoy Elmer’s antics as well—which I highly encourage. Although Elmer does encounter tigers, a lion, crocodiles, a gorilla, and wild boars that are ALL trying to eat him, these incidents are silly rather than scary and children will revel in how Elmer manages to slip out of one precarious predicament after another.
The only things better than the story are the wonderful illustrations by Gannett’s stepmother, Ruth Chrisman Gannett. Her black-and-white, grease-crayon drawings are a wonderful complement to her stepdaughter’s words and give life to Elmer and the inhabitants of Wild Island. What I loved most was the map included at the beginning of the book. It not only labels the islands and ports, but it also shows readers where Elmer slept, met the fisherman, stopped to talk to tortoises, and other events that happened along his journey. This added attention to detail truly allows readers to become a part of Gannett’s world as they follow Elmer’s path in his quest to find and rescue the dragon.
One of my favorite quotes on bravery is this one by American journalist Franklin P. Jones: Bravery is being the only one who knows you’re afraid. And although this is a whimsical and silly fantasy book, it gives us a valuable lesson of how a young boy pushed aside his fear and used wit rather than weapons to outsmart his foes and help a fellow creature in need. On second thought, there’s nothing really silly about that after all.
* Book cover image attributed to: www.abebooks.com
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