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.

1 comment:

  1. How wonderful to have so many dragon books pulled together in this review post.
    I wonder if you might be interested in helping to promote a forthcoming Save the Children report on literacy. If you are, please email me on