This wonderful book eases anxiety about starting school by guiding children through a typical day and what might be expected of them. It also provides a subtle lesson on classroom etiquette and, using the dragon as a role model, gently reinforces positive behaviour.
The dragon demonstrates the best way to proceed through the school day. We’re presented with a variety of hypothetical scenarios framed within the question: “would a dragon do this?” We’re then shown exactly what a dragon would or wouldn't do in the different situations. These questions and their answers provide repetition, which young readers love, and make the book interactive, and even more fun.
A little girl and boy accompany the dragon throughout the story. These friends are of different ethnicities to one another, making this a diverse read too which is fantastic. Especially at a time when only 4% of children’s books published in the UK contain a black or minority ethnic main character. The Irish percentage is likely to be even lower.
There’s something very quaint and comforting about this book. It has a charming, old-fashioned quality in both how it looks and how it sounds. The illustrations are gorgeous, and it rhymes from start to finish.
Dragons are intriguing and incredibly appealing children's books characters. A Ladybird book called Dennis the Dragon was one of my favourites when I was younger. You can read more about dragons in children’s literature in this article published in the Guardian and another one from Brightly.com. There's a more in-depth, academic exploration of the dragon motif on the Fafnir website. And here’s a list of other dragon-related children's books.
When a Dragon Goes to School is the second dragon story that author Caryl Hart and illustrator Rosalind Beardshaw have collaborated on together. Their first, When a Dragon Comes to Stay, was an instant success when it was published in 2019.
Caryl Hart is a bestselling author whose Princess series has sold over 220,000 copies worldwide. I wasn’t familiar with these until I saw one advertised at the back of this book. I’ve ordered a copy of the first title, The Princess and the Shoe. It looks like a fresh and empowering take on Cinderella and I’ll write about it after it arrives.
Roaslind Beardshaw has illustrated several books for Nosy Crow including a fabulous series of board books called A Walk in the Countryside. These help children learn about colours, numbers, opposites and the letters of the alphabet. They look lovely and also feature diverse characters.
I hope Hart and Beardshaw team up on more dragon stories soon. When a Dragon Goes to School is an interesting variation on the school theme and a beautiful addition to our collection. I can’t wait to see new books in the series and find out what else a dragon would or wouldn’t do!
Title: When a Dragon Goes to School
Authors: Caryl Hart and Rosalind Beardshaw
Publisher: Nosy Crow
Publication Date: 2nd July 2020