Although I’ve started honing my book searching skills and am beginning to build up a good repertoire of techniques for finding great books for the girls, there’s nothing I love more than when a wonderful book arrives in my lap out of the blue. Tell me a dragon by Jackie Morris isn’t a book I’d heard of and I certainly wasn’t on the look out for a dragon-themed book, but when I saw Tell me a dragon on the library shelf I knew it was one that was destined to become a new family favourite.
Tell me a dragon isn’t a story book, but rather a compendium of imagined dragons. Each double page spread is filled with a pre-raphaelite-esque portrait of a different dragon, accompanied by a line or two describing it. The first dragon we meet is
made from the sun and the stars.
Sparkled with stardust,
all night he follows the silver moon-path
across the sky.
Later we meet a sky dragon who rides “the secret music of the wind” and an ice dragon whose “breath is snowflakes.”
Some dragons in the book are bold and fierce, but none are menacing or frightening – instead this book reclaims them as majestic, magical and mythical creatures, dragons which will (almost literally) give your child’s imagination wings.
The format of this richly illustrated book reminds me of Castles by Colin Thompson (here’s my review) – both books open up the worlds of possibility and move away from widespread, caricatured disney-like images, to something much more creative, powerful and awe-inspiring. At the end of this book we’re invited to imagine what our own dragon might be like – and this was the perfect platform for M to fly off and create some dragons of her own. Here’s what we did.
1. We gathered together
2. For each dragon, M took 2 pieces of card. On one piece she draw a dragon head and on the other piece she draw a dragon tail. I cut out the heads and tails, leaving a little extra card where the dragon’s head and tail would attach to a body.
3. M made a body for each dragon by taking 2 long strips of paper each about 5 cm wide. She folded the paper strips over themselves – first one strip, then the next and so on, to create a sort of accordion effect. I sellotaped each end of the accordion body so that they didn’t unravel.
4. M decorated her dragon heads and tails with glue, glitter and shiny things. She also added googly eyes – always popular!
5. I attached the heads, bodies and tails to each other with sellotape, and than stuck on a craft stick at either end of the body, so that the girls could hold the dragons and make them move. (In this photo they’re stuck in egg cartons to keep them upright).
6. What the girls *loved* was dancing with their dragons to music!
The endpieces of Tell me a dragon are stunningly illustrated with hundreds of dragon eggs. This inspired me to create some for the girls to find one morning at breakfast…
I put the following in a saucepan:
Whilst heating all the ingredients up I kept stirring until everything was well mixed and some of the water had evaporated – perhaps a couple of minutes.
I then scooped out a handful of the mixture and moulded it around a small plastic dragon (well, actually a dinosaur as that’s what I had to hand, but we’ll pretend it was a dragon), to make an egg shape. I had enough mixture to make 5 eggs, each approximately the size of a duck egg.
I left the eggs to cool and harden over night. In fact I left them for two nights to make sure the eggs dried properly but I imagine I could have sped this up by putting them in a very cool oven for an hour or two.
I made a nest out of shiny paper and pipecleaners, filled it with the eggs, found a mother dragon to sit on the brood, and waited till the girls woke up.
Delighted, the girls cracked open the eggs to find baby dragons!
Other dragon-related activities we think would be fun include
Now, over to you! What’s your favourite dragon story?