Sunday, September 22, 2013

My Father's Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett

My Father's Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett, illustrated by Ruth Chrisman Gannett

Rating: 3.5 stars

Here's a segue-way book: In between the years of picture books (those gorgeously illustrated tales, both simple and complicated) and the decades of chapter books (those wordy works both true and not-so-true), books like My Father's Dragon teach your kids to sit and listen to a story told over several nights, maybe weeks or months. It's a learned skill (we forget because we're old) to sit and listen a little to a story, recalling the previous night and put on hold knowing the end because we know that end isn't going to come for a few more days or weeks. 

My Father's Dragon is a good start to reading chapter books at night. It is just ten short chapters, and after the first few chapters (which, I've got to say, aren't entirely gripping from the start), each chapter involves a story of its own. 
Her father finds and rescues the baby dragon.

A child tells the story of her or his father traveling to an imaginary island to rescue a baby dragon which is being used--rather, abused--as a means of transport from one side of the river to another. The animals on this island, aptly named Wild Island, are unwelcoming and all want to eat her father up. But he tricks them all in a David and Goliath sort of way, thus teaching your kids that brains beat brawn every time. Even though there's a threat of death on every other page and a smattering of the word "kill" and "hate," the stories are still silly enough and therefore tame enough for a preschooler--both Ben (5 5/6) and Lorelei (6 1/2) enjoyed the book very much. (Though longer, Ben was more entranced by The Wizard of Oz...)

We read about two chapters a night, though the big kids got their books taken away one night after racing up to the bathroom one night, leaving one child triumphant and one child in tears. (The previous night resulted in the same race and the same result, and I warned them that I'd take books away if they repeated it. They did, and I stood by my threat. Sometimes they forget they have a Mean Mom; sometimes I have to remind them.) 

I liked it. Didn't love it, but a solid like.  There are two sequels to the book that I've ordered from the library--I doubt I'll read them but I'm sure Lorelei will inhale them in an hour...!

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