The Trouble with Dragons by Debi Gliori

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The Trouble with Dragons by Debi Gliori

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Category: For Sharing
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Jo Heffer
Reviewed by Jo Heffer
Summary: Did you know that there are dragons everywhere you look? The problem is that they are not very well behaved dragons and their careless behaviour is causing all sorts of problems! Somehow, they have to be stopped before they cause a catastrophe for the whole planet. This delightful but surprising picture book provides us all with a timely reminder.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 32 Date: October 2008
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
ISBN: 978-0747595403

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When I first picked up The Trouble with Dragons I thought it was going to be the ideal book to share with my three year old daughter and that I would transport her into a fantastical world full of amazing mythical creatures. On one level, the book does work in this way but it is also so much more than that with the sort of message that makes it entirely appropriate to share with much older children too. As a parent, I found this book absolutely stunning and have spent a wonderful time pouring over the pictures and discussing the content with both my three and five year old daughters.

The book starts by telling us that the trouble with dragons is... dragons make more dragons and they make some more till there are wall-to-wall dragons making dragons galore. In fact what it seems to be telling us is that there is a population explosion of dragons. That could very well be alright but the real problem is concerned with what these dragons do and let me tell you that there behaviour is really not very good at all! Would you believe that they go around building houses and roads, eat tons of food but also waste plenty, chop down forests and blow out hot air? Obviously all this has a disastrous effect on the planet which results in everyone leaving except the dragons.

The lonely dragons are very upset by what they have done so the second half of the book concentrates on telling them how they can repair the damage. There are strong messages about not chopping down forests, eating locally grown food, walking rather than using cars and so on. At the end of the story, the author suggests that if you know a dragon (and most of us do) ask if it thinks if this story is true! It's certainly makes you stop and think at the end, and what is very noticeable is that we are not actually presented with a happy ending. This makes one wonder whether it was too late for the dragons to put all their wrongdoings right.

Obviously there is a very strong message in this book and I'm sure that older children will very quickly make links between the actions of the dragons and human behaviour. Even with young children they can quickly see what the dragons are doing wrong and talk about what they ought to do instead. Because of this, it's a wonderful book for helping young children to become environmentally aware and to realise what they can do to help protect the planet. I was very pleased to read on one page this message:

Respect all Earth's creatures and cherish the land,
recycle, reuse and reduce your demands.

It was good to see the three 'R's recycle, reuse and reduce used and because my five year old has been learning about recycling at school we had a very animated conversation about the 'naughty' dragons and their destructive actions.

Added to the strong messages within the text are some absolutely wonderful illustrations. If you look very carefully at each picture you can pick out so many wasteful and careless things that the dragons have done. On one page we see loads of tins, bottles and other forms of debris just abandoned and on another page the entire picture is cluttered and smoky due to all the building. On every page there is so much to talk about and each time we have returned to the book we have spotted other things too.

Having said all this though, it still has a lovely storybook feel to it and this is particularly down to the fact that it's written in rhyme. This makes it a very enjoyable read and as with any story that uses rhyme, both my daughters enjoy being able to predict and supply the appropriate words.

I am absolutely delighted that we discovered The Trouble with Dragons. It is such a powerful story and one that is so important to share with young children. It's a fun book though which does not preach and I am sure that it will be these types of stories which will really excite children and motivate them to do their bit!

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

Respecting the environment includes respecting the people and animals in it. We can recommend The Bog Baby which looks at the way that we treat wild animals.

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Buy The Trouble with Dragons by Debi Gliori at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Trouble with Dragons by Debi Gliori at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy The Trouble with Dragons by Debi Gliori at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Trouble with Dragons by Debi Gliori at


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