5.29.2013

Dragon's Fat Cat, story and pictures by Dav Pilkey 48pp RL1

I first posted this review in September of 2008, when my blog was barely a month old and I was racing to write reviews of all my favorite (and my children's) books. A new comment on these books reminded me how wonderful and rare they are and I decided to repost this review and hopefully introduce a whole new generation of emerging readers to these superb books! If you already know the DRAGON books, scroll to the bottom of this review for more titles from Pilkey that are perfect for new readers.





This is exactly the kind of book that I wish there were more of - a first grade level reading book with chapters, that LOOKS like a chapter book and not a picture book or beginning to read book. I see so many kids every day at work who are reading at a first grade level but want to read something that looks like a Magic Tree House book, not an easy reader. While the "Dragon" books are a little bit larger in trim size than a traditional 2nd grade level chapter book, they do have chapters and are easy to read. And, they're so, so funny!

Most of you are probably familiar with the work of Dav Pilkey even if you don't realize it. His Captain Underpants chapter books have been huge sellers for over 15 years now and his Dumb Bunnies picture books for even longer. Pilkey is a funny guy who is interested in appealing to kids on their level, which means he really gets potty humor and thinks "underpants" is a silly word. However, not much of that sensibility pops up in the Dragon books, although Dragon can be a little clueless most of the time, which makes for some funny situations and an entertaining read.

In my favorite, Dragon Gets By, Dragon wakes up very tired. He reads an egg and fries his newspaper, butters his tea and sips his toast and, sooner than later, ends up back in bed where he belongs. In the chapter titled, "Shopping," Dragon restocks his cupboards, but he is so hungry that he sits outside his car and eats all of his groceries. Afterwards, he is so stuffed that he cannot fit in his car to drive home. He decides to push it home, since it's all downhill, but things get out of hand. In some ways, Dragon reminds me of Frog and Toad, Arnold Lobel's great beginning to read series, which is my standard bearer for all good easy reader books. Like Dragon, Toad is a little neurotic, a little difficult and a little confused about the best way to get things done. But that, along with Pilkey's bright, cartoon like illustrations, are what makes for great, hilarious reading!

Since I posted this review, I discovered that there was a television show based on Dragon and his friends AND this show has just been added to Netflix's catalog of streaming movies and shows. This stop-motion animation show was produced by a French-Canadian company in 2004 and you can visit the show's site here. Wikipedia also has a decent entry on the show that lists all the episodes - and there are a lot! I don't normally find television shows based on books worth sharing, but the characters are done so well and this show has expanded on the stories in the books exponentially that this is more of a situation of having more to love...


Dragon: excerpt from "Dragon Learns to Skate."
from Philip Marcus on Vimeo.


MORE PILKEY FOR NEW READERS!!

Big Dog and Little Dog capture the playfulness, camaraderie and silliness of the world of Dragon. There is a hardcover edition that collects all five stories in one, which I suggest. The other books are available as board books only and, while they would be great for toddlers, these books are fantastic for emerging readers.



I assume that everyone knows DOGZILLA and KAT KONG, featuring Dav's corgis and cats. Not sure who owns the mice... These books are hilarious and hugely popular in school libraries. Both are available in paperback.





13 comments:

Jeremy said...

These sound great for my younger daughter -- she likes the "easy readers", but most of them are so bad. I've put them all on hold at the library...thanks for the recommendation.

Tanya said...

I agree. So many of the easy to read books are dead boring. It's a joy to find entertaining chapter books and hard to wade through picture books that might fit the bill.

Mom Unplugged said...

These sound like wonderful books for my first grade son! We also love "Frog and Toad," but I have never heard of these. As everyone seems to agree, most early readers are boring and pointless. I'm off to try and find this series now.

Thanks for this recommendation and thanks for commenting on my chapter book post. Your blog is a fantastic resource and am going to add it to my blogroll!

Tanya said...

Thanks for the kind words. One of my main goals is to find and review beginning reader books that are good quality. Until then, I think I'll write a post on Frog & Toad!

Jeremy said...

As expected, Ella (only four, but reading well) LOVES these books...so thanks again for the recommendation. Spot on!

Tanya said...

I'm so glad Ella liked the Dragon books - too bad there are only a small handful. Has she tried the Poppleton books yet? I love, love, love those. Also, I hope there are a few picture books in the pile from my post that she can enjoy reading...

Jeremy said...

I didn't immediately leap at the Poppleton books because of my longstanding bias against walking, talking, dressing animals. I've avoided them whenever possible, along with any book composed of rhyming text. It's my own peculiar compunction, brought on by getting so thoroughly sick of them early on and realizing that most of them are terribly formulaic. That said, the Poppletons sound charming and I did put the first one on hold for Ella.
:)

Lizi Love said...

I LOVED the dragon books when i was younger and now I cannot wait until my nephew is a little bit older to share and read those books with him.

Tanya said...

I'm so glad to hear that - and I'm glad they are still in print. Pilkey's humor reminds me a little of James Marshall's hippos, George and Martha - if they got silly once in a while...

Crinklynose said...

My now 4-yr old started reading the Dragon books since she was 3. She still loves them. Now she reads them to her 9 month old brother :) Hilarious stories! Our favorite is Dragon's Christmas when he tried to eat all the candies from the wreath he had made :) Thanks for your wonderful blog, I get ideas which books to get for my early reader :)

Thanks again Tanya!

Tanya said...

@Crinklynose - Thanks so much for your comment! That is exactly how I imagined these books being enjoyed and it is so great to know that your daughter is now reading them out loud to her baby brother! Fantastic!

Karisa Lowe said...

Wow! This blog is so packed with information! Love that in depth posts about each book and the categorization along the right side. Thanks for writing!

Tanya said...

Thanks for reading my blog and thanks so much for the kind words!