Though we still read piles and piles of picture books, over the last few months, Laurel has grown very attached to “chapter books” notable both for their increasingly complex story arcs and reduction in illustrations. We received three such books – Ruth Stiles Gannett’s My Father's Dragon, Elmer and the Dragon, and The Dragons of Blueland – as gifts from friends and the books now are firmly entrenched in our bedtime (and sometimes morning) routine.
These tales were written between 1948-1951 and it’s not surprising that they have endured. The books chart the young and brave Elmer Elevator’s quest to rescue a baby dragon, return back home, forge off again to help the dragon rescue his family from hunters, and find his way back home again. The stories are wildly imaginative and funny – truly entertaining for kids and grownups alike – and the illustrations by Ruth Chrisman Gannett capture the sweetness of the characters and the absurdity of the adventures perfectly.
An added bonus: given the bad rap that fairy tales typically give dragons, I love how these books cast dragons in a gentle, friendly, and family-oriented light. I’m pretty sure I can attribute Laurel’s improved attitude towards dragons to this wonderful collection of books.