Friday, February 18, 2011

Dragon Picture Books and Figurines

Lately we have developed an interest in dragons. In trying to hunt down picture books on dragons, I've run into some difficulty. It's hard to find a book for a toddler that presents a dragon in a less-than-scary light (or in which the storyline isn't just plain ridiculous.)

Now, in this house, if you like a particular animal the first thing you do is collect an animal to accompany you on your journey of discovery. When it comes to animal figurines, our first pick is Safari Ltd. animals.

Do not underestimate the power of an animal figurine in developing a young person's imagination and interest in any type of creature. We have, literally, buckets of Safari Ltd. animals in our house that we have been slowly collecting and gathering. (We have entire families of hippos and elephants.) We like them because they are sturdy (they go everywhere with us - including into the bathtub), "we" sleep with them, we play with them and we call them our friends. (Actually, all of the animals have the magical ability to talk to Bookworm1. He even tells us about what his animal friends dream about at night!) We are close to our animals. I was delighted to check out some dragon samples from Safari Ltd. but my delight paled in comparison to Bookworm1's! They sent the following items for us to imagine with: Lair of the Dragons Collection 1 TOOB, the Mountain Dragon, and the Horned Chinese Dragon.

We were already in the possession of the Safari Ltd. Red Dragon:

Important things to note about Safari Ltd. animals if you are as detailed oriented as my four year old is:

  • Their realistic replicas are carefully sculpted by experts who study the anatomy of their various animals to make them as accurate as possible.
  • Your animals can do anything that you can imagine that they can do.

Important things to note if you are a parent:

  • All of their products are safety tested for lead and phthalates under stringent third party guidelines that meet both US and European standards.
  • These animals can entertain and help educate your children far beyond what you might have ever expected was humanely possible.

We are big fans, obviously, and these toys have only served to heighten our interest in learning more about dragons (and various other animals.)

As for the books we have found to "learn" from, they are as follows:

The Egg was recently purchased because it looked to hold great promise. Written and illustrated by M.P. Robertson, it tells the story of a young boy named George who discovers a very large egg underneath one of the chickens in his mother's chicken house. Pretty convinced that this egg is not housing a chicken, George brings it inside and sits on it himself, reading it stories. After a few days the egg starts to crack and, as you might suspect, a dragon emerges. George takes it upon himself to teach the dragon 'dragony ways' and a relationship forms between them. The illustrations by M.P. Roberston are not only beautiful, but approachable. The dragon is not presented in a fierce light, but has plenty of beautiful detail making this a perfect book for us. Bookworm1 and I both give this one two thumbs up.

The Knight and the Dragon,is written and illustrated by Tomie DePaola,is really a very humorous book. It tells the story of a knight who has never fought a dragon and a dragon who has never fought a knight. Both are quite clumsy about the ordeal and despite their bit of practice, they seem doomed to failure. (This title is vaguely reminiscent of The Reluctant Dragon, in my opinion.) Many of the pages in this book are wordless which is not something that we're used to or find much pleasure in. However, in the case of this particular story, I thought that a few pages of strict illustrations did a good job at telling the story and Bookworm1 was snickering his way through the tale. That's always a positive sign.

We also consulted our home book shelves and pulled a few from our piles. We had read and reviewed The Dragon and the Turtle, by Donita K. Paul and Evangeline Denmark in the past. Click here to read my review of The Dragon and the Turtle. This is a cute story of an unlikely friendship that develops between a dragon and a turtle. A sequel of this book has just recently come out - The Dragon and the Turtle Go on Safari - which we had a chance to preview. The illustrations in the book are all dark (the story takes place at night) which made this one a bit too scary for our four-year-old, but I would imagine than it would be highly enjoyable for an older reader.

An oldie but a goodie, which features a monster (that looks incredibly like a dragon!) is Sir Kevin of Devon. I've talked about why I like this book before and you can click on the title to read my thoughts. If you have a son and ever run across a copy of Sir Kevin of Devon - SNATCH IT UP! It's awesome.

I would be remiss if I failed to mention The Reluctant Dragon, by Kenneth Graham. This book tells the story of a dragon who is much more fond of poetry than of raiding the countryside. The townsfolk know of his existence though, and since dragons are known to be frightening and terrifying creatures, they arrange for the brave St. George to come and kill the dragon off. With the help of a young boy, a mock battle is staged between St. George and The Reluctant Dragon. This book was turned into a Disney short which I intend to talk about more later.

Lastly, we picked up a used copy of Saint George and the Dragon, by Margaret Hodges. This book is a Caldecott Medal winner and is an adaption of Spencer's The Fairie Queen. It tells the story of The Red Cross Knight and the Princess Una. The illustrations in this book are done by Trina Schart Hyman and they are absolutely breathtaking and beautiful. The dragon is a bit more on the fierce side, but not overly terrifying. The story is thrilling and it makes for a good read for young knights-in-training.

These are the books that we have found so far that will tell us wonderful stories about dragons while being appropriate for our age group. I've flipped through countless books and perused more than a dozen stories and have whittled it down to this. If you have a suggestion to make, we're all ears. Maybe you'll hit upon a title that we haven't yet explored and we can add to our dragon book treasures! (There's always hope, right?!)

Thanks to Safari Ltd. for sending us some samples of their dragon figures to play with!


Alice@Supratentorial said...

Many of those are popular with my boy also.

A very cute book, for the youngest aged kids (2-3 years) is Who Wants a Dragon? by James Mayhew. A cute little dragon is searching for someone to be friends with him but the knight and lady and king (etc) are all to scared of him. Finally the one who wants him to kiss and hug is of course, the Mommy Dragon. Very sweet and loved my boys when they were very little. (I think my 7 year old still liked it but won't admit it. :))

Ticia said...

My kids have been angling for those dragons for a long time now.

I just read the cutest book last night about dragons, and now I can't remember the exact title.

Shonya said...

Oh, so disappointing that you have my favorites listed! :) We esp love the Knight and the Dragon--it's just great fun and all four of my older kids have enjoyed it. Another you might like is called the Dragon's Cold by John Talbot. And Pete's Dragon is pretty fun too, of course!

Carrie said...

Oooh yes. We've done watched The Reluctant Dragon, Pete's Dragon and How to Train Your Dragon. I considered writing up the movies too but, uh, the post was getting kinda long. ;)

Beth said...

I love the book "Raising Dragons"!

Stephanie said...

We like the book Take Care, Good Knight which is about little dragons that can't read. : ) It's cute - I've read it a ton and I'm not sick to death of it so that's a good sign.

Janet said...

We enjoy those Safari figurines too, but other varieties than dragons.

Never heard of Sir Kevin of Devon, but it's fun to say! I'll look for it. We've enjoyed the DePaola book and St George and the Dragon around here too.

Sky said...

Our favorite book featuring a dragon is The Kiss That Missed by David Melling
I love the illustrations and the kids love the story.

Serena said...

These books are going on my List!

Stephanie Kay said...

My kids haven't gotten into dragons so far but these books all look really interesting. I'll file this list for future reference.

Ellie said...

I saw a really neat dragon book at Costco today but forgot the name of it! It was an activity book, and it looked really fun. I may get one for Devin if there are any left next time I am in.

Thanks too, for your encouragment and support this week, it helped a lot, and I really appreciate your friendship.

Ellie :o)

Melissa Taylor said...

Usborne has a fantastic lift-the-flap non-fiction book about Dragons, just called Dragons.

Carrie said...

You guys are awesome with the suggestions! Thanks! I have a good number of books to check into now. (Bookworm1 thanks you as well!)

sunt_lacrimae_rerum said...

Have you tried "My Father's Dragon" by Stiles Gannet? I used to love that book when I was about 7-9.

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