My Father's Dragon
My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett
Even though it was published in 1948, My Father’s Dragon has delighted, engaged, and inspired young children for over six decades. Ms. Gannett’s use of simple language and her step-mother's, Ruth Chrisman Gannett, engaging full-page graphics makes this fantasy book timeless and appealing to children of all generations. This Newberry Honor Book and ALA Notable Book is now in the public domain.
My Father’s Dragon was always the first chapter book I read my children when they turned three years old. Ms. Gannet plays on a child's natural sympathy towards animals and a child’s desire to be smart, brave, play tricks on others, and independently solve problems.
This book is the perfect transitional book for kids moving from picture books into chapter books. The easy language along with the numerous silly pictures appeal to young self-readers ages 5-8 years old.
My Father’s Dragon Plotline
As a boy, the author’s father, Elmer Elevator, hears about the plight of a baby dragon being held captive on Wild Island. Elmer learns this sad tale from a stray cat he brought home to give a saucer of milk.
The cat informs Elmer of the baby dragon’s enslavement to the animals of Wild Island. Wild Island is inhabited by ferocious, human-hating wild animals. These animals have the baby dragon tied to a tree with a rope just long enough for it to fly across a large river. The dragon is tortured into flying the animals back and forth across this major river that divides much of the island.
Elmer decides to embark to Wild Island to rescue the baby dragon. The cat instructs him on the items he will need to help him get past the island’s terrifying animals who are always on the lookout for human invaders. He carefully packs in his knapsack a toothbrush and toothpaste, magnifying glasses, a hairbrush, hair ribbons, chewing gum, lollipops, rubber bands, some food, and an empty grain bag labeled ‘Cranberry’.
With his knapsack, Elmer carefully stows away on a ship headed for Cranberry Port on the Island of Tangerina. From the Island of Tangerina, he crosses over to Wild Island via a string of rocks that connect the two islands at low tide. With the items in his knapsack, Elmer manages to trick the various ferocious animals he meets on the way to find the dragon and rescue him.
The various tricks are wonderfully illustrated from a rhinoceros whitening his horn with the toothbrush and toothpaste to monkeys finding flees with the magnifying glasses to a lion getting all prettied up for his mother’s visit with ribbons in his mane. The tricks, the timing, and the illustrations have made this adventure captivating for young readers throughout the many years since it was first published.
Additional Books about Elmer and the Dragon
The best news for children who are just starting to read chapter books and devour My Father’s Dragon is this is the first book in a three-part series. Ms. Gannett continues Elmer’s adventures with the baby dragon in Elmer and the Dragon and The Dragons of Blueland. Both books continue Ms. Gannett’s fun, exploring, and humorous style along with her step-mother's wonderful illustrations.
In the second book, Elmer and the Dragon, Elmer and the baby dragon get lost on their journey to take Elmer home. They wind up on another island filled with talking canaries and buried treasure.
In the third book, The Dragons of Blueland, Elmer makes it safely back to his home and his worried mother. But soon the baby dragon returns to Elmer’s house with worrisome news about his homeland of Blueland. The dragons need clever Elmer’s help with some men who are in the process of capturing the dragons to sell them to zoos and circuses.
Children the world over love Elmer and the baby dragon. The children in your preschool and early elementary classes will love them, too. Check out My Father’s Dragon today. And let the fun begin.
Article by Miss Jae