Title: My Father’s DragonMy-Fathers-Machine
Author: Ruth Stiles Gannett
Illustrator: Ruth Chrisman Gannett
Pages: 77
Reading Level: 8-11
Star Rating: ★★

Those braids look pretty cute on that lion, don’t you think?

The Story.

Elmer Elevator has always wanted to fly – to fly far away and soar over the cities. But he is far too young to do such a thing; his mother would never let him get on an airplane!

But when Elmer makes friends with the alley cat, he learns that planes aren’t the only way that little boys can fly. They can also fly on dragons! And the alley cat knows where a baby dragon is! All Elmer needs to do is get to Wild Island, avoid or outwit all of the jungle animals who live there (and who boast that no one has ever visited their island and lived to tell of it!) and set the captive baby dragon free! Not too hard, huh? It’s actually every bit as hard as it sounds!


The entire premise of the story is make-believe or fairy tale-ish. Animals and little boys talk with one another. The main part of the action takes part on an imaginary island where tigers love chewing gum and rhinoceroses care about how the color of their horns. As far as fairy tales go, it was fairly clean; there are no ogres, witches, or ‘magic’ (other than impossible things being possible). But it is entirely unreal.

At the beginning of the story, Elmer tries to adopt a cat, but his mother objects. Elmer disobeys her and continues to feed the cat. Later, when Elmer is offered a chance to run away, he responds,

“Oh, I’d love to,” said my father, and he was so angry at his mother for being rude to the cat that he didn’t feel the least bit sad about running away from home for a while. [pg. 18]

We never again see or have reference to Elmer’s parents.

The wild animals’ treatment of the dragon is very unkind, although barely mentioned. It was described enough to make me feel sad, though…

Elmer tells a lie to save his life.

Conclusion. I can’t offer a one size fits all opinion of this story. It was cute but nonsensical. If you allow your children to read fairy tales, then this story should be fine for them. However, if you prefer to present only the soberest of stories to your children, then this story is not for you.

Review © 2013 Laura Verret

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