My Father's Dragon

by Ruth Stiles Gannett

Other authorsRuth Chrisman Gannett (Illustrator)
Paperback, 2014

Call number




CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (2014), 80 pages


A young boy determines to rescue a poor baby dragon who is being used by a group of lazy wild animals to ferry them across the river on Wild Island.

User reviews

LibraryThing member krau0098
I got a copy of this book to read with my five year old son. It is a very fun and clever children’s read with some great lessons and some wonderful illustrations.

When Elmer Elevator hears about the plight of a poor overworked baby dragon from an old neighborhood cat he is determined to save the dragon. He travels to Wild Island and, through a series of crazy events, saves the dragon from the animals keeping it prisoner.

This book was first published in 1948 and I am amazed at how well it has aged. The writing is fairly simple and is definitely at a younger level but it still made for an excellent story. There are a couple spots where the language is a bit archaic but not many.

Elmer Elevator encounters a number of less than friendly animals and for each encounter he finds a clever (and sometimes hilarious) way to distract the animals. For example he gives the rhino a toothbrush and toothpaste for his very dirty horn and he gives the tigers chewing gum. It was great fun to see how Elmer would combat the next group of animals.

Additionally all the lands have wonderfully fun names. Elmer lives in the land of Popsicornia and travels through Tangerina (known for its tangerines) to get to Wild Island.

Elmer uses cleverness instead of violence or force to get through his adventures. He also frees the poor baby dragon from slavery. All while eating tangerines. The only part of the story parents might object to is the fact that Elmer runs away from his parents at the age of nine to do all of this.

My son loved this book and immediately wanted to start on the second book of the trilogy, Elmer and the Dragon. The pictures throughout are fun and wonderfully done. They match the tone of the story excellently.

Overall a wonderful fantasy read for children. This is a chapter book but is written at a lower reading level that is easy for younger children (5+) to understand even if they can’t quite read it yet. Elmer uses cleverness and humor to survive his noble adventure. The wonderful pictures only add to the excellent story. Highly recommended to read with kids, especially those interested in adventure and fantasy.
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LibraryThing member karrotab
Great introduction to chapter books for younger kids. Unfortunately, once I start reading it, my son demands I finish the entire thing!
LibraryThing member bdn
A Newbery Honor Book in 1948, this humorous adventure story about a boy who uses his wits to rescue an enslaved baby dragon is . . . reissued in a near facsimile of the first edition, including original full-color jacket and long-lost endpaper maps".--Booklist. ALA Notable Children's Book; Newbery
LibraryThing member mrsarey
This is a sweet little story about a boy who runs away from home to help save a dragon. Children will love the simplicity and the sweetness of the boy. Unfortunately, this is not a story that translates well to adults. Its very simplicity keeps an adult from getting into the characters as a child would.

This is a great book for a classroom library!… (more)
LibraryThing member debnance
Lovely little adventure story of boy who travels to an island and meets many intriguing creatures. The story never feels contrived. Recommended.
LibraryThing member raizel
A boy goes on a journey to rescue a dragon, who is being kept as means of transportation on an island of talking animals. It just so happens that the things the boy packs for his trip, which seem completely random and useless at the time, are exactly what he needs to achieve his goal.
LibraryThing member bell7
Elmer Elevator hears about a dragon whom lazy animals use as a way to get over the river on Wild Island, and decides to go in search of him. The narrator generally refers to Elmer as "my father," which makes this fantasy story have almost an historical adventure feel. This is a short little book that I listened to in only two days' worth of driving. I think I would have enjoyed it much more as a child, but the story is not complex enough to translate well to an adult audience.… (more)
LibraryThing member Cottonwood.School
A young boy determines to rescue a poor baby dragon who is being used by a group of lazy wild animals to ferry them across the river on Wild Island.
LibraryThing member shelf-employed
I read this book on a recommendation from a coworker who remembers it fondly from her childhood. First published in 1948, this Newbery Honor book is still in print.
My Father’s Dragon is told by Elmer Elevator’s offspring, and is the story of Elmer’s daring trip to Wild Island to rescue a dragon. Encouraged to make the journey by a kindly alley cat, Elmer sets of on his adventure with a knapsack full of provisions, “ chewing gum, two dozen pink lollipops, a package of rubber bands, black rubber boots, a compass, a toothbrush and a tube of tooth paste, six magnifying glasses, a very sharp jackknife, a comb and a hairbrush, seven hair ribbons of different colors, an empty grain bag with a label saying “Cranberry,” some clean clothes, and enough food to last” while on the ship - “twenty-five peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and six apples.”
Needless to say, each of these items becomes necessary to his quest. Using resourcefulness and ingenuity, Elmer outwits the inhabitants of Wild Island. A rousing and timeless adventure story!
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LibraryThing member MereYom
A fun first chapter book.
LibraryThing member Omrythea
What a fun, easy to read book. Makes a nice read aloud. Simplistic and engaging. A delightful read.
LibraryThing member melaniehope
What a perfect first chapter book to read to your child. This adventure story tells the tale of Elmer and his quest to travel to Wild Island to rescue a baby dragon that is being cruelly mistreated by the other animals on the island.
Along the way, Elmer has numerous adventures and must use his wits to successfully find and rescue the dragon.
Almost every page has beautiful black and white illustrations and the book is short and sweet. Just perfect as a beginning chapter book or for those 4 or 5 year old listening to their first "big" book! What a fun, adventurous, clever book!
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LibraryThing member fuzzi
What a fun story, full of imagination and whimsy!

Elmer offers milk to a stray cat, and in turn, she tells him about a baby dragon held hostage by wild animals on an island. So off he goes to find the baby dragon, with only a knapsack filled with bubblegum, lollipops, rubberbands, a comb and brush, toothbrush and paste, and a few other equally interesting necessary possessions.

Nice story to be read by or read to children of all ages.
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LibraryThing member KylieBrigham
A young boy hears about the plight of a mistreated baby dragon and travels to Wild Island to find it. On his journey, the boy meets a variety of animals that he must trick in order to evade so that he may be allowed to continue. Reminiscent of a nursery rhyme, this is a chapter book for young readers and it pushes students to think about the cause and effect relationship among problems that the animals have and how they can be alleviated with the objects the boy carries in his backpack. Slightly silly in nature, this book pushes students to think outside the box and make predictions about what they think will happen.… (more)
LibraryThing member JackieL1
I thought that this book was a great beginner chapter book for children. It is a fun, up beat story about a boy who is on Wild island to save the the dragon. On his journey he encounters many talking creatures but he uses the objects in his backpack to help them and save himself from being eaten as well as saving the dragon. I thought that it was a children friendly storyline that keeps the reader interested and an opportunity to expand reading comprehension. Overall the stories narration brings the reader along for the adventure on Wild Island.

The theme of the story is friendship and adventure. The boys takes the reader through the various encounters he has on the island and it creates his determination to save the dragon. The boys determination demonstrates his loyalty and friendship towards the importance of rescuing the dragon. This book is a great read for students to enjoy and get a sense of loyalty.
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LibraryThing member kedwards1991
This is a great chapter book for children to start with. It has great vocabulary for them to learn and has interesting illustrations that depict the story very well. I think children will enjoy it because it is action based and entertaining. I liked this beginning chapter book a lot!
LibraryThing member satyridae
I read this online at my own father's behest. The pencil illustrations are just lovely. The animals are clearly based on close observation (well, except the dragon, one must assume) and the boy is adorable. The story is fun- the boy packs the most unlikely things in his backpack, and the ways he is called upon to use them during his adventure are silly and hilarious. Delightful book.… (more)
LibraryThing member mirrani
An entertaining and delightfully amusing book that children will enjoy and adults won't at all mind reading to them again and again. The illustrations are beautiful and the quality of writing is perfect for the target group. The moments of problem solving are perfectly blended with a touch of humor that will make anyone smile as the boy goes about his quest to rescue a baby dragon. It is interesting how this is quite obviously a fantastical story, yet it feels so perfectly normal that you can actually believe every word. A perfect little story for all ages, guaranteed to brighten someone's day. It is clear why this was awarded the Newbery Honor.… (more)
LibraryThing member Cheryl_in_CC_NV
I liked these when I read them to my sons, but I believe I attempted them and didn't like them when I was a child. Hmm.
LibraryThing member Whisper1
This 1949 Newbery honor recipient is a simple tale told in a marvelous manner.

Weary of admonishment by his mother, Elmer Elevator listens to a verbal stray cat regale his tales of travel. Hearing the tale of
Wild Island and a dragon captured there, Elmer decides to free the dragon.

With lovely illustrations, we accompany Elmer in his quest.
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LibraryThing member msmarymac
Summary: In this story a young boy recounts the story of his father’s journey to rescue his very own dragon. The story begins with the father, a young boy at the time, being reprimanded and punished for adopting and caring for a stray alley cat. The young boy shares his dreams of flying with the alley cat as they walk through the park one day and the cat begins to tell the boy how he could help him fly. The cat tells the boy about the Island of Tangerina where he traveled and learned of the inhabitants of Wild Island. On Wild Island lived a young baby dragon who was being held captive to transport the citizens of the island across the river because they were too lazy to walk around the tip of the river. The alley cat helps the boy prepare for a trip to Wild Island to rescue the dragon and gives him a packing list that surely saves his life when he encounters the tigers who love to chew gum, the lion who is more concerned about the appearance of his mane and the alligators that loved pink lollipops. The boy narrowly escapes rescuing the dragon that then flies him to safety.

Personal Reaction: This was a wonderful book and a fanciful tale. I loved the subtle under tones of human encounters such as the lion being afraid his mother would cut his allowance if she saw his mane completely a mess. The mouse and the boars were hilarious in their pursuit of the invasion and the fact that they boy had exactly what he needed in his knapsack to counter each of the attacks that he faced was delightful. When you first hear the items in his pack you can’t imagine what they are for so to see how he uses each of the items is interesting. A great book for young boys to read.

Classroom Extension:
1. A fun activity after reading this book would be to have the students draw one of the characters in the book. Each of the animals had distinct characteristics and it would be fun to see how the children would illustrate these characters.
2. Another fun extension of this book would be for the students to brainstorm what other animals Elmer might have encountered on Wild Island, describing the situation of their meeting and what Elmer might have had in his pack to dissuade them from further attack.
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LibraryThing member NinaCaramelita
A lovely read wherein ‘my father’ – Elmer, rescues an alley cat. Mother did not approve. Nevertheless, he secretly keeps her. Because of that, his wish to fly is granted when the cat tells him about a dragon. And so his adventure begins…

Elmer sneaks out of his house one night with chewing gum, two dozen pink lollipops, a package of rubber bands, black rubber boots, a compass, a toothbrush and a tube of tooth paste, six magnifying glasses, a very sharp jackknife, a comb and a hairbrush, seven hair ribbons of different colors, an empty grain bag with a label saying "Cranberry," some clean clothes, 25 PB&J sandwiches and 6 apples.

In every chapter, he’ll has to find a solution to get around his obstacles, and soon it becomes clear what those rather odd items can be used for! ;)

It was a true pleasure rediscovering this book!
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LibraryThing member katieloucks
I did this as a play in kindergarten!!
LibraryThing member pussreboots
My Father's Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett is the first book in a children's trilogy about a young man (the narrator's father) and his baby dragon. It was a 1948 Newbury Honor.

Elmer Elevator decides he is in need of some adventure. He has heard rumor of a bullied baby dragon on Wild Island, accessible only via a string of rocks from Tangerine Island. Elmer must face dangerous, talking animals, out smarting them.

For younger readers, My Father's Dragon offers a silly adventure similar to the Pipi Longstocking books. For me, the best part of the book was the artwork. The illustrations and included map are wonderful. Reading, it though, as an adult, I found the story lacking somewhat. I'm sure if I were still in elementary school, though, it would have been a favorite.
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LibraryThing member Breton07
"My Father's Dragon" is a whimsical story about a boy who frees and befriends his father's dragon. The story takes place on the islands his father told him about in his stories. This novel is a brilliant reminder of the power of stories,
and their profound meaning to children to whom they are told.… (more)




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