You know its true.
Everyone wants the safety of a book that is so alluring that your kids will beg you for "one more chapter" every night.
So today, Read Aloud Dad answers the question on every parent's mind.
"Can you help me find a classic book that will:
a. be equally enjoyed by young listeners and the reader,
b. make us laugh and which will keep surprising us with the unexpected twists and turns of its story, and
c. be enjoyed by different generations at the same time
Tall order, indeed.
Good news - my palms are itching - I've got a classic that fits the bill!
So Good You Must Read It Aloud
"I must smell tumduddy. I mean, I must tell somebody!"Mouse in My Father's Dragon
If you happened to skip over the initial quote at the very start of this review ("One cold rainy day when my father was a little boy...", please go back and read it.
Can you imagine a book that starts like that ... and then ends up boring. No way!
The two main characters of this book, a boy named Elmer Elevator and his baby dragon friend Boris, have been entertaining young readers for more than half a century!
This Newbery Honor Book is an comic adventure, wrapped up in an exciting escapade!
After Elmer Elevator finds the old alley cat on the street, he invites her home, feeds her and then the cat tells him about a wonderful and mysterious pair of islands - The Island of Tangerina and The Wild Island.
The point of the trip is for Elmer to reach the Wild Island (after crossing over a "bridge" of stepping stones from Tangerina Island) to save an over-worked baby dragon that is being used by the wild animals as a flying bridge between the two rocks in the sea.
The More the Merrier
The best part of this book is that Three Tales of My Father's Dragon is in fact a treasury that combines all three books written by Ruth Stiles Gannet on this subject.
After the success of her first creation - My Father's Dragon - she followed it up with two equally great sequels: Elmer and The Dragon and The Dragons of Blueland.
1. My Father's Dragon
2. Elmer and The Dragon
3. The Dragons of Blueland
Curiously, not even Ruth Stiles Gannet expected to create such a furore with her first children's book that was published in 1948.
"When I wrote it, I had no idea that my story about Elmer and his dragon would become such a success. My Father's Dragon was written to amuse myself between jobs. I wrote it for fun, with no expectation of publication. What a happy surprise it was when Random House accepted it!"
I love the fact that her fabulous yarn about a boy, an alley cat and a baby dragon was a family project.
While Ruth Stiles Gannet wrote the stories, the illustrations were done by her stepmother Ruth Chrisman Gannet and the author's husband-to-be chose the type!
Talk about a family-oriented book! This one was born out of a family!
One of the most curious - and for me immensly attractive - elements of My Father's Dragon is the choice of "my father" as the main subject of the book.
The book constantly refers to "my father" as the hero, bringing a special magic and intimacy to My Father's Dragon. It's a nice stylistic trick that works well in my opinion.
The two sequels are not merely a nice addition in this treasury, they are more like a life-saver.
So instead of just reading and re-reading My Father's Dragon (the first story), with this treasury you can simply go on and read the remaining two stories about Elmer - which are equally as fascinating.
This is a perfect "first" chapter book for you kids, with chapters that are of the perfect size with lots of illustrations sprinkled through the text.
There is one thing that I love most above all, about this book. The humor is simply sparkling!
My twins, who were much younger when we read this for the first time, had the time of their lives laughing at and with the quirky animals in this book.
The humor in the book is the real magic that makes everything come together in such a fantastic way.
Read Aloud Dad gives his highest praise for Three Tales of My Father's Dragon.
This is simply a book that you must have on your home bookshelf!
Three Tales of My Father's Dragon is available from bookstores in the US:
The Book Depository (free worldwide shipping)
and from other countries: