Three Tales of My Father’s Dragon: Ruth Stiles Gannett

Books Worth Reading

November 21, 2018

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This classic fantasy trilogy of Elmer Elevator’s adventures with the flying baby dragon Boris will delight readers of all ages with their silly escapades and endearing friendship.

Reading Level: 7-12, and 4+ as an audio or read aloud book

Read aloud time: 2 hours and 30 minutes (for all 3 novels)

Length: 242 pages

About the Author: Ruth Stiles Gannett was born in New York in 1923 and graduated from Vassar in 1944 with a BA in Chemistry. She published her first novel, My Father’s Dragon, in 1948 and it was that year’s runner up for the prestigious Newbery Medal, which honors the “most distinguished contribution” to American children’s literature each year. She wrote the sequels in 1950 and 1951. A new animated film of My Father’s Dragon is scheduled for release on Netflix in 2021.

Here’s why kids might like Three Tales of My Father’s Dragon:

These three delightful books chronicle Elmer Elevator’s adventures with the baby dragon Boris. In the first book, My Father’s Dragon, Elmer learns that a baby dragon has been cruelly imprisoned by the fierce animals of Wild Island and he decides to rescue him. He must use his wits and a random assortment of objects to distract the island’s inhabitants in a series of humorous episodes before saving the baby dragon and flying to safety. The second book, Elmer and the Dragon, picks up where the first book left off and tells the story of Elmer’s adventures on his way back home. After a terrible storm, Elmer and the dragon are stranded on Canary Island where they must help King Can XI discover a long held family secret to save him from dying of curiosity. In the third book, The Dragons of Blueland, Boris makes his way home only to discover that his family is in terrible danger and asks Elmer to help save them.

What makes this trilogy reading?

Each of these books has a simple, straightforward plot, revolving around one major problem that must be solved, making these books ideal for young readers. The books also have a wonderful blend of fantasy and reality, where Elmer has to use everyday objects to help him in fantastic situations. The books are also perfectly designed for their audience, full of humor where Elmer and Boris are able to escape danger by silly means such as giving a Lion a makeover or making a bridge of crocodiles by tying pink lollipops to their tails. The simple black and white illustrations by Ruth Stiles Gannett’s stepmother, Ruth Chrisman Gannett, are whimsical and really bring the story to life.

A few ways to discuss these books with your child:

  • In My Father’s Dragon, Elmer must get himself out of many dangerous situations using just his brains and the contents of his backpack. Which episode is your favorite and why? Can you think of a time when you had to problem solve using ordinary objects? Tell me about it.
  • In Elmer and the Dragon, the island suffers from the “plague of curiosity” and King Can XI thinks he’s dying of curiosity. What is he so curious about and how does Elmer cure him of his curiosity?
  • In The Dragons of Blueland, what do we learn about dragons? Are they really the fierce, ruthless creatures described by knights? How does Elmer use the men’s misconceptions about dragons to help save the dragons?

Publication Details:
Book: 50th Anniversary Trilogy Edition: New York: Random House Books for Young Readers, 1997.
Audiobook Trilogy: Listening Library, 2016. Narrated by Robert Serva.

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