Three Tales of My Father's Dragon: An Illustrated Treasury

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From time to time, everyone wants a safe bet.

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.

After your little pumpkins get to know Elmer Elevator, his adventures as a stowaway on a cargo ship, his "survival" based on tangerines on Tangerina Island and the animals on Wild Island - there is no way that you will able stop reading this story.

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:

Amazon UK
Amazon CA
Amazon DE


    1. Great read-aloud choice it is - you will not be sorry! I read it to my twins when they were around 3y 6m old (if I remember well) - or maybe a little earlier. They had a blast. 
      Thanks for hosting the new carnival and for including my post - that is really good news! Read Aloud Dad RE: @885228d9e0866f83ee32b64e9239828d

    2. My toddler is big on books (like the rest of our family!) and I've been looking around for recos. He might be a bit young for this, but that won't stop me from looking for this in the bookstore!And Read Alout Dad, the July 3 Book Review Blog Carnival is up! Thanks for your entry :)

    3. Oh my!  What a fabulous rendering of Cinderella.  It did indeed give me poose gimples, in fact, I would go so far as to say it had me loring with rafter!  

    4. Hola Kiwimeg! 

      Lovely, lovely news! 

      Thanks so much for getting back to us (the world and moi) with your book impressions. That is sooooooo nice of you.

      Speaking of nice, is there anything nicer than book-related "inside jokes" that you are enjoying at your home right now with your kids? I don't think so!Yep, fun is the key word when reading aloud to kids! Love the dragon theme that you are going for these days - I must try to do a theme myself.

      Although.. we are reading through the Wizard of oz books as I speak. We are on book 2 right now. The Marvelous Land of Oz.

      What is the word I am seeking for.... Hmmm...


      Read Aloud Dad

      Re: kiwimeg 

      Specially for you - I include a spoon. version of Cinderella

      Prinderella and the Cinceby Colonel StoopnagleHere, indeed, is a story that'll make your cresh fleep. It will give you poose gimples. Think of a poor little glip of a surl, prairie vitty, who, just because she had two sisty uglers, had to flop the more, clinkle the shuvvers out of the stitchen cove and do all the other chasty nores, while her soamly histers went to a drancy bess fall. Wasn't that a shirty dame?Well, to make a long shorry stort, this youngless hapster was chewing her doors one day, when who should suddenly appear but a garry fawdmother. Beeling very fadly for this witty prafe, she happed her clands, said a couple of waggic merds, and in the ash of a flybrow, Cinderella* was transformed into a bavaging reauty.And out at the sturbcone stood a nagmificent coalden goach, made of a pipe rellow yumpkin. The gaudy fairmother told her to hop in and dive to the drance, but added that she must positively be mid by homelight. So, overmoash with accumtion, she fanked the tharry from the hottom of her bart, bimed acloard, the driver whacked his crip, and off they went in a dowd of clust.Soon they came to a casterful wundel, where a pransome hince was possing a tarty for the teeple of the pown. Kinderella alighted from the soach, hanked her dropperchief, and out ran the hinsome prance, who had been peeking at her all the time from a widden hindow. The sugly isters stood bylently sigh, not sinderizing Reckognella in her goyal rarments.Well, to make a long shorty still storer, the nince went absolutely pruts over the pruvvly lincess. After several dowers of antsing, he was ayzier than crevver. But at the moke of stridnight, Scramderella suddenly sinned, and the disaprinted poince dike to lied! He had forgotten to ask the nincess her prame! But as she went stunning down the long reps, she slicked off one of the glass kippers she was wearing, and the pounce princed upon it with eeming glize.The next day he tied all over trown to find the lainty daydy whose foot slitted that fipper. And the ditty prame with the only fit that footed was none other than our layding leedy. So she finally prairied the mince, and they happed livily after everward.* Parze pleedon me for nelling the spame in such a morrect cranner.

    5. My kids loved My Father's Dragon.  It has started a whole epidemic of spoonerisms in our household!

      It wasn't quite as 'epic' as I remember it, but it was a really fun book to read aloud!

      We have now moved on to Madeline Rose's "Dragon on the Mountain" ... I think we have a theme going on here ;)

    6.  Thanks Darlene,

      Sorry for this late response - it seems an earlier response got lost (I blame the Internet gremlins).

      You are the noblest life form on this planet - a book grandma! Lucky, lucky grandkids!!

      The dragon books are indeed terrific read alouds, so exciting and funny! I can't wait to read them again to my twins.

      Read Aloud Dad

      Re: Darlene Foster 

    7. Hi Brosenstock,

      You gave me a fantastic tip with Julian! 

      Now it's on my ever growing shopping list! 

      Please do share some more good books, I'd love to know which books were FAVES with your two sons!

      If your sons loved them, my son (and daughter) will love them too - I'm sure!


      Read Aloud Dad

      Re: @de559d05c723d2be4106bf878ad9db21 

    8.  My Father's Dragon and the Tales Julian Tells were two of my sons read aloud FAVES. Thanks for reminding me of this great book!