BEA'S BOOK NOOK "I can't imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once." C. S. Lewis “If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.” ― Oscar Wilde

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Bea Reviews Dear Dragon Goes to the Aquarium by Margaret Hillert, Illustrated by Jack Pullan

Publisher: Norwood House Press
Series: Dear Dragon
Format Read: eGalley
Source: the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Release Date: January 1, 2015
Buying Links: Amazon* | Book Depository* | Barnes & Noble |
* affiliate links; the blog receives a small commission from purchases made through these links.

Blurb from goodreads:

A boy and his pet dragon explore the aquarium and the animal life that lives in water. They learn about various fish, penguins, turtles, and much more. This pre-primer book contains high-frequency and sight words. Teacher resources include reading activities to strengthen phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency and comprehension. Beginning Reader with word list.

Dear Dragon returns with new illustrator Jack Pullan, who brings to life these four stories by adding new friends and a baby sister! This season’s stories are about Dear Dragon going places and having adventures with a boy and his friends and family. These Beginning-to-Read books capture the imaginations of beginning readers and help them on their way to independent reading. This popular series meets the Common Core State Standards for Language Arts and can be used with beginning readers to:

• Practice reading high frequency words

• Expand comprehension

• Improve oral language skills

Bea's Thoughts:

I was lured in by the title and the cover of this book and barely looked at the blurb. After teaching toddlers and preschoolers for over 20 years, I've developed an intense dislike for the vast majority of fiction kids books that aspire to be educational. They're frequently heavy-handed and all too often boring. "Dear Dragon Goes to the Aquarium" wasn't too bad in either of those categories but it could have accomplished it's goals in a more enjoyable fashion. I expected whimsy based on the cover and got mild humor; I expected some sort of story line but it's thin at best. If I hadn't read the blurb, I would not have known that the dragon is a pet or that he belongs to one of the children in the group that visits the aquarium and the only reason we know his name is because the title and blurb tell us; the story certainly doesn't.

Each page has a mild pun based on the animal they will see next. We learn nothing about the animals mentioned, there's no story to tie them together, it's just a small group of children touring the aquarium with a tour guide. The artwork is adequate and some children will enjoy the book but it's nothing special or wonderful; it's, well, adequate. There is at one least factual error when the author identifies dolphins as fish. No, they are not fish; they are mammals.

The text is simple, with a lot of repetition, making it good for it's target audience of beginning readers. It says that it's for ages 5-8 but I would call it more appropriate for ages 4-7. Though of course, children are individuals, but I think most eight year olds would be bored silly. There are some activities at the back of the book for practicing certain literacy skills that parents or caregivers may want to try.

I wouldn't buy the book but if you're interested, see if your library has it.


  1. It sounds like this book is only really good for practicing on, rather than actually reading for enjoyment. I could see it being okay for much younger readers but, as you said, not for older children. It's a shame, too, since the cover is so gosh darn cute.

    1. Yes, exactly. It's not a book you read for pleasure. The cover IS cute but that scene exists only on the cover and not in the story.


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