#989 – Dear Dragon by Josh Funk and Rodolfo Montalvo

cover Dear Dragon
Written by Josh Funk
Illustrated by Rodolfo Montalvo
Viking Books for Young Readers   9/06/2016
40 pages   Ages 4—8
“George and Blaise are pen pals, and they write letters to each other about everything: their pets, birthdays, favorite sports, and science fair projects.

“There’s just one thing that the two friends don’t know: George is a human, while Blaise is a DRAGON!

“What will happen when these pen pals finally meet face-to-face?

[Dear Dragon is] “A sweet and clever friendship story about looking past physical differences to appreciate the person (or dragon) underneath.” [INSIDE JACKET]

George and Blaise begin the new school year, at two different schools, assigned as pen pals. They will write, in rhyme, to each other during the school year. This new activity is a first for both boys, who rely on twenty-first century technology, including the internet, social media, and texting via smart phones. Putting a pen to paper will be a conundrum for both boys. To add a layer of difficulty, each letter must be written in rhyming poetry. Wow.

Letters begin as formal short descriptions of their recent day and then delve into a friendship.

As the school year continues, George and Blaise continue writing to each other. With each passing letter, the stiffness relaxes and the boys look forward to receiving new letters. Writing becomes an enjoyable task. Both boys look forward to writing and reading each new letter, visualizing the other’s activities, never realizing what the reader understands: The life of one tan human boy and one green dragon child will not be what the other can accurately imagine.
georgekittenbengaltigerFor example, George tells Blaise he needs to bath his Bengal kitten. Believing George to be a dinosaur like himself, Blaise imagines George bathing a huge Bengal tiger. Blaise tells George his father won the local fire-breathing contest and George envisions a man bowing fire out from his mouth, not a fire-breathing dragon flying through the sky. Young readers will enjoy being “in on the joke.”

Then the day arrives when the two teachers bring their classes together. A picnic that gives pen pals a chance to finally meet face-to-face and talk. No one expects the day to happen as it does—except maybe the wise and clever teachers.
sciencefairvolcanoeruptionDear Dragon contains Funk’s usual humor, grace, and insightfulness. Thanks to Montalvo’s equally humorously detailed illustrations. Imagine writing to a young boy, very similar to yourself (or young girl), and developing an amazing friendship, even though you could not pick them out in a crowd. In fact, appearances play no role in this friendship whatsoever. Yet, though your lives are so similar, your thoughts and visualizations of your pen pal are actually far from the truth, meaning your pen pal is not someone you would have chosen for a friend. In fact, you very well may have avoided him or her. Yet, now, you are the best of friends.

Funk and Montalvo cleverly teach kids to value a person’s inner characteristics over their physical features, which neither has seen until today. Readers will learn the value of appreciating a person’s character instead of the person’s appearance. Kids also can now understand how people (and dragons) erroneously visualize someone’s words based on their own experiences rather than shared experiences.
flyingDear Dragon is clever, a fun read, and a brilliant tale for young children who will learn more than anyone could ever expect from a pen pal. There is no twist at the end. Readers understand from pages one George is a human boy and Blaise is a green dragon. Will they become friends? Can they understand what the other writes? How off, if at all, will pen pals find himself or herself when reading and understanding their pen pal’s letter?

I love Funk’s idea. It would be a brilliant experiment, if two schools, from two countries or regions became pen pals. Can words alone, rhyming words, help each pen pal understand and become friends with the other? Will the friendships last beyond the school year? Time—and maybe a sequel—will only tell.

DEAR DRAGON. Text copyright © 2016 by Josh Funk. Illustrations copyright © 2016 by Rodolfo Montalvo. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Viking Books for Young Readers, New York, NY.

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Reprinted with permission from DEAR DRAGON © 2016 by Josh Funk, Viking Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers/Penguin Random House, Illustrations © 2016 by Rodolfo Montalvo.




Copyright © 2016 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved

Dear Dragon
Written by Josh Funk
Illustrated by Rodolfo Montalvo
Viking Books for Young Readers 9/06/2016


15 thoughts on “#989 – Dear Dragon by Josh Funk and Rodolfo Montalvo

  1. Pingback: #1157 – THE CASE OF THE STINKY STENCH by Josh Funk and Brendan Kearney | Kid Lit Reviews

  2. Great review, Sue! I just LOVE this book 😀 Them not knowing what the other was leaves them imagining the contents of the letters in their own way and I really love how that plays out and, of course, how it ends 🙂


    • Yeah, ending are pretty good in kidlit. So are the middle and beginning (in any order). I knew you loved Josh Funk’s work (almost left qualifier off, but you would squirm–don’t he would either, he has a great sense of humor. I got to talk to him, too. (Oay, it has been through emails, but that’s the 21st century way, right? So . . . he is a great guy. So is Frans Vischer. And . . .

      Liked by 1 person

      • Agreed, Sue, about everything you said about Josh! I got to meet and talk to him at the festival and again the following day at Books of Wonder. He is exactly as you think he is online. So lovable 🙂


          • Well, yeah, I’d say I do. I’m in New Jersey, 1 hr. 15 min. ride to Princeton (there are other book festivals within driving distance but I can’t afford the time and money for more than what I do in Princeton), and I’m about 30 min. from Manhattan, the hub of the publishing industry. I wish I could attend many more events than I do, but I can’t. Most things cost money in one way or another! 🙂


  3. We’re big fans of Josh Funk. Can’t wait to get my paws on this one. The rhyming sounds divine and love the illustrations.


    • He also released Pirasaurs! this year, check sidebar or archive for review, AND next year a sequel. No not to Pirasaurs! (see, why I can’t get a book published, I don’t know grammar or grammpa.) 😆 I love Josh Funk’s books, too. (I requested both and will keep eye on his career—wait, would that be stalking? If it is, then more funny, right (see, bad grammar is back , I’m hiding behind good grammpa. 😆 (what, not funny twice?!) 🙂


  4. What a cool, fun idea for a book. When I was a teacher, we ALWAYS had pen pals from someplace around the US. We never met any of them in person though. I wonder if any of them were dragons!!? Yikes!


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