Monday, 20 May 2013

More Dragon Books

Jin Jin and the Rain Wizard:
After reading the first Jin Jin, we just had to have the second. This one is as lovely as the first. In this story Jin Jin loses the power to breathe water after throwing rice away. He learns that food should not be wasted, as many people suffer without enough to eat, but he also learns that you can correct a mistake with enough effort. This is another beautiful story that combines Chinese Folklore with a mother's loving stories to her own child, illustrated just a beautifully by her brother. It gives some information on Chinese characters as well, and teaches something of Chinese history and culture, so this is very much a book that educates as it entertains.

 The Pet Dragon;
This book does set out to teach children Chinese characters, but as educational as it is, it is even more entertaining. It tells a lovely story of the friendship between a girl a very tiny red dragon - who doesn't stay tiny for long. Like most Eastern stories, there is some moral to this as well. The girl is kind and helpful to an elderly woman and this kindness is returned.

Tralfagar True: Another Stepehn Cosgrove story with a beautiful and gentle blue and purple dragon who teaches the furry kith and kin the meaning of friendship and the importance of sharing.

 The cover of this book is the first that thing that will draw any reader in, and it is beautiful. The paper is thick and smooth and printed to look like a red leather covering, with a circle in the middle which displays a lovely illustration of a dragon in flight. This circle is surrounded by three glass gemstones and text both in English and the language of the dragons. Encircling this illustration is a stunning red dragon embossed into the cover. This dragon is raised, so that children can run their fingers over it, feeling the dragon, or lay a paper across it and make a rubbing. Best of all though, it is made of a foil type material, which if tilted toward the light right will reflect a flame like glow. Finally we have a Celtic design in another circle like a great seal. The overall impression is magical and well suited to this book.

Inside the book we find several pages telling us all about dragons. The first set mentions other animals once thought to be myths that are now known to be real. There is a scientific explanation of how dragons fly and breathe fire, involving methane gas, a map of the world with locations of dragons, detailed descriptions of various types of dragons, the life cycle of dragons, their natural history and behaviour. After this we receive all sorts of advice for the study of dragons and finally a history of dragonologists and dragon slayers. the entire book is presented in a journal like format, meant to be the records of a dragonologist, Ernest Drake.
 Full review @ dooyoo

Dragonology Pocket Adventures:
Four short choose your own adventures perfect for younger readers. We finished each of these in one night. They are illustrated and teach just a little bit of geography as well.

Dragonology Chronicles
A series of longer chapter books with two children studying as apprentices for dragonologist Dr Drake. Black and white illustrations, easy to read, and lovely stories.

Dragon Stew:
 Dragon stew is about a very polite red dragon, and four very rude Vikings with nothing to do. The Vikings decide that capturing a dragon might be fun, they could tie him up and cart him home and cook up dragon stew.  They know they are in the right place when they find a gigantic pile of dragon poo. The Vikings find the dragon, who politely greets them and asks them if they would like something to eat, but the only thing the nasty Vikings want is a pot of dragon stew.

This is a very short story with a lovely rhyming text and a real pleasure to read aloud. Rhyming text or Nursery rhymes are considered to be a key part in emergent literacy, and believe it or not, this process starts as young as 6 months of age. Reading to your child from a very early age is the very best thing you can do to help them become readers later, but rhyming books are especially important for children who are not yet reading. Rhyming text is also far more difficult to write well, and many books rhyme, but fall short in the story, and just because it rhymes does not mean it will necessarily have a good cadence as well. This has an excellent story for little ones, as well as a wonderful cadence and rhyme.

The illustrations are top notch as well. They are somewhat carton like, but bright and colourful enough to entice even a very young child, and very, very funny. My son usually prefers longer stories now, but I am well pleased that he really enjoys this as well, as at age 4, he is not reading yet. I would highly recommend this, from ages 6 months or even younger ( I read to my children before they were even born). This is a book for sharing with a child though, by the time a child is old enough to read this on their own, I feel they will most likely have outgrown the story. There is nothing in this book that I feel would upset or frighten even the youngest child.

Full review @ dooyoo

Where Did All the Dragons Go:
 ' Where Did all The Dragons Go ' is, as the title suggest about what happened to the dragons long ago. Every part of the world has ancient tales of dragon like beasts, but of course none are alive today, so if you choose to believe they once were real - where have they gone? This book is for every child who asked this question. This book tells of a time long ago, when dragons shared the earth with man. The children loved the dragons and often joined in their games, but the adults could not understand the powerful creatures and feared them. The time came when the dragons knew they must leave to find their own place. they joined into a great flock and flew away, to a place unknown, but perhaps some trace remains. When the clouds grow black as smoke, and the fire of lightning can be seen, you just my hear the dragons roar again. Beautifully illustrated, rhyming text.
Full review @ dooyoo

The Dragon Snatcher:
George's dragon comes home but he needs help. An evil wizard is stealing all the dragons eggs to cast a spell to banish dragons from their home forever. Can George find the last egg in time?

Too Hot to Hug:
Lovely story about a baby dragon whose warmth is lovely at first - but he soon becomes too hot to hug. Beautiful pictures and a happy ending.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Dragon Books for children

These are all books with good dragons - so if you are looking for dragon slaying adventures. I'm sorry, but this is the wrong place. These books are for younger children who love dragons.

The Water Dragon by Jian Li:
This is a truly beautiful book with some of the most beautiful illustrations I have ever seen, and a lovely story to match. It is a story of kindness and morality, but does not read as such. To a child this just a wonderful story, but the  it still sets a wonderful example as well. It is a story of a boy who finds a magical dragon stone, but then his village is beset by drought. He sets off on a quest to find the magical water dragon, helping many animals along the way. The story is told both in English and Chinese. One a scale of one to five, this book breaks the scales and easily earns a six.

Jin Jin the Dragon by Grace Chang:
This is another beautiful story based loosely on Chinese folklore. Jin Jin is a beautiful golden creature who hatches from an egg alone. He meets several helpful animals as he travels on is quest to find the wise old turtle and crane so he can find out what he is. He has the scales of a fish, the claws of an eagle, the antlers of the deer, the body of the serpent etc... But his quest to find out who he is interrupted as he comes across people in desperate need of help? The beauty of this story is that in helping others, he discovers his true nature.

In addition to a beautiful story, the illustration in this book are lovely as well - what child would not love Jin Jin? This book also explains how Chinese characters are formed, as Jin Jin reads the clues to continue his quest, and your child will learn a few of these as well. But this is not a book children will see as educational, although it is, for children this book is simply magic - and I have to confess - I found it magical myself.

Finally the author tells us more about dragons in Chinese culture in a brief note at the end of the book, as well as giving us information on Chinese characters in general, and the ones used in this book in specific.  This is another book I find difficult to limit to 5 stars and am adding a plus to show that even among 5 star rated books, this is a cut above.

The Popcorn Dragon by Jane Thayer
Dexter looks more like a traditional western dragon, but he appears to live on the African savannah, as his friends are an elephant , a giraffe and a zebra. The elephant looks a bit closer to an Indian elephant though, but they are all beautifully drawn. This story is more about friendship than anything else, but it touches on many common childhood themes, loneliness, showing off, and getting along with others.

Dexter is a very young dragon - and has just discovered a new skill - blowing smoke. But he ends up showing off a bit too much and not thinking of others, which leaves him isolated from the other animals. He soon discovers another talent - his hot breath can make corn into popcorn - but this time he learns to think of others as well.

The Muffin Muncher by Stephen Cosgrove
Out of print now and more difficult to find, but this is a lovely story with beautiful illustrations about a dragon who loves to eat muffins and learns that helping others can often make it easier for them to help you as well.

Dragolin by Stephen by Stephen Cosgrove
A beautiful little green dragon who can not breathe fire, at least not at first, and learns to believe in himself.

A  very sweet pink sea serpent with a message about pollution.
**** 1/2

The Egg by M.P. Robertson
When George finds an enormous egg in his mother's chicken coop , he takes it on himself to nurture and care for it. It turns out to be a dragon's egg and George makes a wonderful dragon mother, but eventually the dragon longs to be among it's own kind. A lovely story about love and letting go.

The Snow Dragon by Vivian French
A long time ago, the world was divided into two halves, the northern hemisphere was ice cold and populated by peaceful snow dragons. The southern hemisphere was fiery hot, and home to the fierce fire dragons. Only a small strip in between that was neither too hot nor too cold was home to the two legs (humans). Everyone stayed to their own parts of the world, and so their was peace, until Book tells the ruler of the fire dragons that a two leg will cause their demise. So the fire dragons searched out and destroyed the two legs, leaving only a few survivors hidden in caves. In their quest to destroy the two legs they went further and further north, changing the world to a hot dry desert and forcing the snow dragons to retreat deeper into the snow covered mountains until only one remained.

Now Book enters the picture again, found by an orphan twolegs, Little Tuft. Book shows Little Tuft a picture of the last snow dragon and the quest begins. Sometimes book helps Tuft, and shows him the which path to take, other times he misleads the boy deliberately. Tuft perseveres through all danger until he finds the snow dragon and persuades her to help.
Spoiler Alert - as this book has an ending which may upset some children - I will give away the ending.. The snow dragon gives her life to destroy the fire dragons and bring peace to the world. The twolegs prosper. Then at the end Little Tuft thinks he sees the shape of the snow dragon in the clouds, and you can see her in the illustration. This gives parents the easy out of saying the snow dragon isn't really dead, she has just changed int a cloud dragon and lives in the sky.
 This is a beautiful story and well illustrated, but my sons never took to it as much as the other dragon stories as they really did not like the ending.

Puff, the Magic Dragon (Book & CD)
A beautifully illustrated book of the popular children song, with accompanying musical CD and a happier ending through the final illustrations.