A Poor Excuse for a Dragon (Step into Reading Book Series: A Step 4 Book)


"Punchy dialogue and compact sentences should make this a read-aloud delight."?Publishers Weekly

"Part-slapstick, part-fairy tale, the gently humorous plot has enough twists and turns to keep newly independent readers engaged."?School Library Journal

Fred the dragon has a list of tasks he must complete in order to be a successful dragon?none of which comes naturally. But he's determined to make #5?eat people?work. Before you can say "pass the salt" he's gobbled up three people even though he doesn't have the ...

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"Punchy dialogue and compact sentences should make this a read-aloud delight."—Publishers Weekly

"Part-slapstick, part-fairy tale, the gently humorous plot has enough twists and turns to keep newly independent readers engaged."—School Library Journal

Fred the dragon has a list of tasks he must complete in order to be a successful dragon—none of which comes naturally. But he's determined to make #5—eat people—work. Before you can say "pass the salt" he's gobbled up three people even though he doesn't have the stomach for it. Luckily a local shepherd, with the help of a giant and a witch, knows how to cure what ails him and get those pesky people out of his belly. It's happily-ever-after for everyone in ways you'd never expect.

Geisel award-winning author/illustrator Geoffrey Hayes is a stepped reader maestro. The common threads between his wildly popular Uncle Tooth and Otto SIRs and the more recent Benny and Penny series (Toon Books) are clear and constant. The art is adorable, the characters are bursting with personality, and the stories are humorously subversive. From marauding pirates to misbehaving mice to a dragon who swallows people whole (and then continues to communicate with them in his belly!), Geoffrey always hits that sweet spot for the stepped reader audience—easy to decode, illustrative tales that tickle the funnybone.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
K-Gr 2—A young dragon's parents send him off to make his way in the world with advice on how to be a good dragon: "Rum amok. Eat People. Roar. Breathe fire. Act scary." But none of this comes naturally to Fred; despite his scary red eyes, each of his well-meaning attempts fizzles. Having eaten several folks he's met along the way (including a princess and a frog chef), he develops a major bellyache and enlists the help of a giant, a witch, and a shepherd to extricate them. When all of the characters are themselves again, the princess asks Fred to become her palace's House Dragon—no fire-breathing required—a position for which he is happily suited. Entertaining black-line and colored pencil cartoon drawings enliven this Kuklapolitan-esque cast. Part-slapstick, part-fairy tale, the gently humorous plot has enough twists and turns to keep newly independent readers engaged.—Kathleen Finn, St. Francis Xavier School, Winooski, VT
Publishers Weekly
This jolly Step into Reading title stars a less-than ferocious dragon who leaves home with a to-do list and a directive from his father: "Make us proud of you." Fred's instructions seem simple enough—run amok, eat people, roar, breathe fire, act scary—but prove difficult to pull off. He gets dizzy when he tries to run amok, the castle cook tells him his roar "sounds like a meow," and the princess announces that the fire he breathes "looks like a birthday candle." But Fred is good at eating people, and with a smug "I'll show you," he swallows the cook, princess, and a singing bird whole, which makes his stomach ache. With the help of a witch, a giant, and a shepherd boy, Fred's victims are freed, and he happily takes up residence in the castle moat. Punchy dialogue (castle cook Mrs. Green is, in particular, a spitfire) and compact sentences should make this a read-aloud delight, while Hayes's (the Benny and Penny books) cartoons, in which these classic fairy tale characters resemble toys, add significant fun of their own. Ages 7–9. (Aug.)
Children's Literature - Beverley Fahey
Fred wants to be a good little dragon but when he leaves home to seek his fortune he finds he cannot live up to his parent's expectations. His roar is more of a meow, his fiery breath resembles a birthday candle, and he prefers pancakes to eating people. After swallowing a frog, a bird, and a princess whole he has a tummy ache. Castor oil from Hooty Witch doesn't work and the residents of his stomach resist the Giant's long arm reach to pull them out. It is Little John who lowers himself by rope down inside the dragon and persuades the three to leave. It is soon decided to make the little dejected dragon Mrs. Green's House Dragon. Fred now swims lazily protecting the moat, no longer runs amok, and eats all the pancakes he wants. Everyone is happy. This humorous little adventure is a good choice for newly independent readers who want to exercise their reading muscle. The plot line is involving, the dragon endearing, and the solution satisfying. The soft colored pencil illustrations are childlike and move the story along nicely. Some visual clues within the drawings may help readers infer difficult words within the text. A good supplemental choice for classroom reading shelves and libraries that never seem to have enough of these readers on hand. Part of the "Step into Reading series," a Step 4 book. Reviewer: Beverley Fahey
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375868672
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 8/23/2011
  • Series: Step into Reading Book Series: A Step 4 Book
  • Pages: 48
  • Sales rank: 202,803
  • Age range: 7 - 9 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.80 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Geoffrey Hayes has written and illustrated more than forty children's books, including the popular series of Otto and Uncle Tooth mysteries (Step into Reading), the beloved Bear By Himself, and the Patrick Bear books. In 2010 Geoffrey received the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award for Benny and Penny in the Big No-No.
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