Dragon's Merry Christmas. by Dav Pilkey. August 1, 1991. Orchard Books. 48 pages. ISBN: 9780439548489
In this 1991 easy reader by Captain Underpants creator Dav Pilkey, Dragon prepares to celebrate Christmas by selecting the perfect Christmas tree, making a wreath out of candy, making a Christmas list, and giving things away to friends who need them more than he does. I had never seen this book before, despite its age and the fact that it came from my own library’s collection, but I recognized it instantly as one of the best holiday books for kids I’ve ever read.
The story is touching in some places, but laugh out loud funny in others. The tone is sincere rather than saccharine and Dragon is a childlike protagonist in whom child readers can easily see themselves. The brightly colored and cartoonish illustrations give visual cues and Dragon’s body language and facial expressions provide emotional context for the events of the story. Dragon reminds me of beloved easy reader characters such as Cynthia Rylant’s Poppleton and Arnold Lobel’s Owl, who get confused and upset but ultimately do the right thing.
The humor is perfect for early elementary school audiences. At least two of the chapters have surprise endings, which caught me off guard and made me giggle out loud. I think kids will especially crack up when Dragon puts his mittens in his coat to keep from losing them, and then loses his coat. I think we all know kids who habitually lose things, who would understand Dragon’s problem all too well. The story also works in the usual lesson about the true meaning of Christmas, but not in an obnoxious or heavy-handed way. Kids will swallow the lesson easily because they enjoy Dragon and will be more likely to internalize it, I think, within the context of such a fun story.
Dragon’s Merry Christmas is a perfect holiday reader for fans of Elephant and Piggie, Frog and Toad, Fly Guy, and any of Dav Pilkey’s other books.
I borrowed Dragon's Merry Christmas from my local public library.
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