Sunday, September 23, 2012

Puff the Magic Dragon by Peter Yarrow and Lenny Lipton

 Puff the Magic Dragon by Peter Yarrow and Lenny Lipton, illustrated by Eric Puybaret

Rating: 4 stars

"You bought our kids a stoner book?!" my husband said when he saw this book.

"It has such a sad ending!" my mother said when I told her I bought it.

This book sure has a bad reputation!  I guess that's exactly why I hadn't even thought to read it to Lorelei or Ben.  Until, that is, my cousin Stephanie suggested that I put it on my mother's shelf for all her grandkids to read.  I thought it was worth checking out.  So I did.  Literally.

I got the big book from the library, a book full of fantasy-filled illustrations, done by the talented Eric Puybaret.  The book was big--an oversized hardback--but the pictures on the pages made the book seem even bigger.  I won't quit my (unpaid) day job to sing, but I admit I can carry a tune just fine.  My kids like to hear me sing, so they were spellbound when I sang the book to them, and turned the pages of this beautiful book as the verses floated around them.

The song made the book a different experience for them, and Lorelei has been humming the tune a lot, looking for the book to fill in the blanks when she forgets the words.  ("I don't want to sing it like you do, Mommy: 'Little Jackie Paper, something something something..."  She is so right.  I always forget the words to songs!)

Puff, the magic dragon, / lived by the sea,
And frolicked in the autumn mist / in a land called Honalee.
I don't really get why this children's book is linked to some illegal substance, but my mom is right--this book definitely does have a sad twist.  After Puff and Jackie Paper frolic and imagine and play in a way only a child and his imaginary friend can, Jackie Paper grows up.  He goes away, never to return again, and Puff is lonely.

But illustrator Eric Puybaret saves the day and keeps Grammy's tears at bay.  In the last two pages, he paints in a young girl who clearly replaces the turned-into-a-muggle Jackie.  Puff is happy again with his new playmate, new adventures, new cycle of childhood.

I think that Steph is right, this is a great addition to your shelf, especially if you can carry a tune and can sing it to your children.  Pick up the board book version at your local Wegmans while grocery shopping, just like I did yesterday.


  1. now you are allowed to know the rest of the song. Here are the additional verses that Jeff made up while rocking Elaina to sleep when she was a baby.

    "Now Jackie had a daughter, her name was Elaina Claire, and that little girl was the only one who could coax Puff out of his lair.

    When Puff first saw her smile, he leapt right to his feet. He knew right away that she was the one he just had to meet.

    They ran and danced and played, out in the great big world. Puff that mighty dragon, he adored that beautiful girl." Then you go back to the refrain one last time :) hubby is pretty awesome! Glad you enjoyed the book...share this with your mom and maybe she will like it more! :)

    1. She will definitely like it more! Thanks for sharing. What a keeper you have... :)