I've been slacking off lately, but since last August, I've been putting a "Kids' Classic I Forgot to Read" on our front desk for a month at a time. Previous titles are: From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs Basil E Frankweiler, Egypt Game, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh, Mr. Popper's Penguins, The Cricket in Times Square, A Wrinkle in Time and 13 Clocks. In honor of Fathers' Day, I decided to select My Father's Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannet (illustrated by Ruth Chrisman Gannet), a fabulously wholesome story perfectly suited for reading aloud with the whole family. Little Elmer Elevator (the father of the faceless narrator) would give anything to fly. Luckily for him, he's made friends with an alley cat who knows where a dragon lives, held captive by a slew of wild animals. It is Elmer's quest to free the dragon, and chase his own dream of flying, and to do so he must use all his cunning, courage and (most of all) kindness to accomplish his goals. Elmer makes for a lovable protagonist, whose most memorable characteristics are that he is kind and he is clever. Though many of the animals want to eat him, he finds ways around them that do no harm to anyone. Win, win.
The illustrations are plentiful, and the type set is large, so the fact that it is 86 pages is a bit misleading. It's a very short story, similar in feel to many of the Japanese fairy tales I grew up reading (only with less tail-cutting-offness and swords). Simple enough for younger kids to follow, with all the adorable a grown-up can handle, I totally recommend this book for full family read alouds, barring the involvement of any snarky teens.Shown above, an illustration of Elmer and his run in with the Rhino on Wild Island.