Dear Dragon

Dear Dragon book cover

This clever story features two pen-pals getting to know each other through the exchange of rhyming letters. When they meet face-to-face, will their expectations match reality?

Picture book, fiction
Interest level: K-3; Reading level: 2.6
4 out of 5 stars

As an assignment for class, students in two different schools are assigned pen pals. They are to write letters that rhyme to their assigned pal. Readers get to instantly see that the two schools are VERY different…one school is for humans and the other school is for dragons!

The illustrations, by Rodolfo Montalvo, are key to the humor and purpose of the story. Each letter from one of the pen pals is featured in a two-page spread. Readers get to share the letters between Blaise Dragomir and George Slair. From the names alone, you can guess which one is the human, and which is the dragon.

Each letter is accompanied by two different illustrations. The first illustration shows the recipient reading the letter and envisioning his own version of events, while the author of the letter is seen on the accompanying page depicting the event happening in their own life. The difference between what the letter writer and reader sees is very humorous!

In one exchange, Blaise Dragomir writes, “My favorite sport is skydiving. I just near Falcor Peak.” You can see from the illustration that Blaise and George have very different ideas of what it means to skydive!
It is fun to watch a friendship develop through the progression of letters. The letters become more personal and less formal.

The writing project ends with a pen pal picnic where the friends will get to meet each other. What makes this moment special is when they finally realize that their pen pal is not the same species that they are, and then when you turn the page, they are high-fiveing their friendship and differences.

This story has a good message about the similarities and differences between people of different cultures (or species) and celebrates the ability to bridge those differences and form friendships. In a global 21st-century world, this is a good message to spread to young readers.

Montalvo’s illustrations are such fun and are vital to the telling of the story. Teachers could use this book as a way to engage students at the beginning of a pen pal writing project.

Dear Dragon
written by Josh Funk; illustrated by Rodolfo Montalvo
Viking, 2016
ISBN 9780451472304

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