January 16, 2017
Dear Dragon by Josh Funk and illustrated by Rodolfo Montalvo
One day, George’s teacher passes out a new assignment. Her class will be combining their pen pal and poetry units. Each student has been assigned a pen pal to write in rhyme.
George writes a letter to Blaise all about how it is to write a letter when you don’t actually know the person yet. He talks about the fort that he and his dad built as well as playing catch and soccer.
Blaise writes back and talks about sky diving and how much he loves attacking castles.
Letter by letter, George and Blaise get to know each other. In the illustrations, when George imagines all that Blaise does, he images a boy much like himself. George imagines someone who resembles him in every way. But readers know something that the two boys do not. George is a boy human. Blaise is a boy dragon.
Toward the end of the assignment the two classes get together. Will the new friendships they’ve developed be enough to overcome their fear of someone who is different?
I cannot overstate just how much I loved this book. First of all, it is clever on a level that is there just for the adult reader. George’s full name is George Slair, reminiscent of St. George. He is natural enemy of Blaise Dragomir. That makes the ending all the sweeter.
This is a terrific book about prejudice and human differences without ever saying that it is about prejudice and human differences. Because of that, young readers are allowed to discover the message as they hear the story. That’s what keeps it from being preachy or over stated.
Montalvo’s watercolor, ink and graphite illustrations are cartoony enough to make the story fun without the imaginings of either boy getting too scary. Blaise is just to cute and fun looking to strike fear.
Share this book in your classroom or any place else that you want to launch a conversation about differences, prejudice and fear.