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We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Book Review

My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. It is the first in the “Three Tales of My Father’s Dragon” series.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

This story, narrated by the son or daughter of Elmer Elevator, tells of Elmer’s boyhood adventures. Elmer befriends a stray cat and tells it about his dream of flying. The cat tells Elmer about a place called Wild Island. The animals there have enslaved a baby dragon, forcing it to carry heavy items across a wide river. If the dragon complains, they twist its wings and beat it. When Elmer hears about the sad, mistreated dragon, he decides to rescue it.

At the cat’s suggestion, Elmer packs a strange assortment of items to take along. He spends six days stowed away on a ship. He hides in a bag so the sailors will think he is cargo and deposit him on Cranberry Island. From there, he makes his way to Wild Island.

The animals on Wild Island sense the presence of an intruder. Two boars, in particular, try to track the “invasion” they know has arrived. Elmer hides himself well, until a group of hungry tigers spots him. He offers them chewing gum. They’re so excited, they don’t notice Elmer sneaking away.

Next, Elmer drinks from a pond. An angry rhino appears and says the boy is drinking from his weeping pool. The rhino weeps because his tusk has grown ugly with age. Elmer pulls toothpaste and a toothbrush from his backpack and helps the rhino restore his tusk to a gleaming white. The distracted rhino forgets Elmer, and the boy gets away.

Elmer encounters an angry lion with a tangled mane. He teaches it how to comb and braid its hair. Again, the boy is able to escape from the distracted animal. A flea-ridden gorilla catches Elmer next. The gorilla commands six small monkeys to help him get the fleas off his body. Elmer produces six small magnifying glasses so each monkey can see the fleas and catch them. He moves on, unnoticed.

For the boy’s final diversion, he gives lollypops to hungry crocodiles and uses their backs as a bridge. He walks across them to find and rescue the dragon. The other animals follow him, all angry that he’s taking their dragon. Elmer and the dragon laugh and fly away, vowing never to return to Wild Island.

Christian Beliefs


Other Belief Systems


Authority Roles

Elmer’s mother tells him he can’t keep a stray cat. She whips him when he disobeys her.





Discussion Topics

Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at FocusOnTheFamily.com/discuss-books.

Additional Comments/Notes

Netflix is creating an original movie based on this book.

Note: The book includes detailed sketches by artist Ruth Chrisman Gannett, the author’s stepmother.

You can request a review of a title you can't find at reviewrequests@family.org.

Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book's review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range

7 to 10


Ruth Stiles Gannett






Record Label



Originally published by Random House; the edition reviewed was published in 2014 by Dover Publications


On Video

Year Published



Newbery Medal, 1949


We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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