My Father’s Dragon

Ruth Stiles Gannett, author

Ruth Chrisman Gannett, illustrator

New York: Random House, 1948

87 p

ages 4+    (chapter book)

Interests: jungle animals, maps, travel adventure, dragons

The narrator tells a story about her father when he was a boy. The boy, Elmer Elevator by name, befriends a straggly alley cat who tells him the story of a poor imprisoned dragon on a faraway island. The boy runs away to rescue the dragon, stowing away on a ship. Upon arriving he must proceed cautiously across the island, which is teeming with wild, dangerous and hungry jungle beasts. Fortunately he has everything he needs in his backpack to distract each one of them. Against all odds Elmer rescues his dragon and they fly off together.

An excellent first chapter book to read to your child. The chapters are short and action-packed. You may not be able to get away with dividing this up over several readings – this was such a page-turner that we had to read it all in one sitting. (It takes about 45-50 minutes to read the whole thing. I timed it on our FOURTH reading!)

This is a first-rate travel adventure story, and features a detailed map of the island for children to study. The hero, Elmer Elevator, is resourceful, brave and clever. The illustrations are plentiful, and atmospheric. And the story is really funny too.

My only caveat – I chose to skip over the detail that Elmer’s mother “whipped” him when she discovered he was feeding the stray alley cat.

Next: there are two more titles in the trilogy: Elmer and the Dragon, and The Dragons of Blueland. (all three also published together as Three Tales of My Father’s Dragon)

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All writings posted here are © Kim Thompson, unless otherwise indicated. For all artwork on this site, copyright is retained by the artist.
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