My daughter has always loved Julia Donaldson books ever since she first discovered The Gruffalo at the age of about two. Since then, our collection of books has grown and grown, and we have grown to love many of Julia Donaldson’s creations, especially the ones that are so brilliantly illustrated by Axel Scheffler. One of our newest favourites is Zog, an enthusiastic young dragon who is trying to do his best whilst studying at Dragon School.
Like most of Julia Donaldson’s stories, Zog is written entirely in rhyming couplets which provide a lovely flow and rhythm to the story telling. At the start of the book, we meet Zog who is a Year 1 pupil at the school run by Madame Dragon. At this stage, all the dragons are learning how to fly and, although Zog is extremely keen, he is a bit clumsy and ends up crashing into a tree in a very ungainly fashion! Luckily, at that moment, a small girl comes by with sticking plaster in hand ready to patch him up before Zog sets off on his way.
During the following years, Zog learns to roar but gets a sore throat and he blows fire but sets his wings alight. Each time the young girl is there with medicine and bandages to help make him feel better. In Y4, he has to learn how to capture a princess. He thinks he will never get the hang of this. That is until the little girl appears again, announcing that she is in fact a princess, and he can capture her if he wants. Pearl, the princess, then stays at the school with Zog and enjoys practising her first aid on all the dragons. Everything is idyllic until a real knight turns up to rescue Pearl even though she does not want to be rescued! What will happen in the end? There I only one way to find out and that is to find a small child to share this thoroughly entertaining book with and to read to the very end!
This quirky colourful story is absolutely delightful and I am sure that most children will fall in love with this wonderful new character from Julia Donaldson. Her storytelling is enhanced by her excellent use of rhyming couplets which provide a great rhythm and bounce to the narration. She uses brilliant vocabulary too and the following example is an example of these elements. This is when Zog is learning how to fly:
“Now that you’ve been shown you can practice on your own
And you’ll all be expert fliers by the time you’re fully grown.”
Zog went off to practise, flying fast and free.
He soared and swooped and looped the loop… then crashed into a tree.
The way the story is written is most enjoyable. There are some tricky longer words that might make it difficult for younger readers but I don’t think I would worry too much about that as I feel that this is definitely a book made for sharing and one that both parents and children will enjoy together.
Axel Schefflers are also superb as usual and his style will be very familiar for fans of The Gruffalo, Stickman, etc. There is lots of detail on every page and each illustration is worth spending some time taking it all in.
Overall both my daughters really love this brilliant book and this bright new character. It is engaging and quirky and will be one to be read over and over again.
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