Dragon’s Merry Christmas, by Dav Pilkey
(1991, Orchard Books)
Probably best known for his somewhat outrageous Captain Underpants series for slightly older children, Dav (pronounced Dave, although variations don’t seem to bother him) Pilkey is also the author of the very fun Dragon books for early readers, and this is a great one for the Christmas season!
Written in four short chapters, Dragon’s Merry Christmas starts with Dragon searching to find the perfect Christmas tree…and deciding it is too perfect to cut down, so he just decorates it where it is and enjoys it through his window at home. Next, he makes a candy wreath, but he just can’t resist the sweet chocolate, so he eats up all the candy until he feels sick and decides that he will make next year’s wreath out of pinecones. In the third chapter, Dragon thinks he has found the solution for always losing his mittens: to attach them to his coat! Then he loses his coat. In the final chapter, Dragon makes a list of all the things he will buy himself for Christmas: lots of food, a new coat (because he lost his in chapter 3!), and a big birdhouse. On his way back home from making his purchases, he comes across others who need what he has bought more than he does. He arrives home with an empty sack, but he doesn’t feel sad that there are no presents left for him, and he sleeps sweetly and thinks he hears angels singing in the night (but it’s really the animals to whom he gave his gifts serenading him).
As silly as the Dragon books are (and they are very silly!), this one ends on a particularly sweet note (almost literally, because of the serenading) because he gave generously of what he had and enjoyed the peaceful contentment that comes with the joy of giving: a perfect reminder for children at Christmas! The Dragon books are written in simple language with many picture cues for readers to help understand the jokes and significance of the text. When reading aloud to younger children, it is important to do “think alouds” and ask questions to help with the inferences needed to really get the book, but preschoolers through early elementary will enjoy the stories either read aloud or for independent readers.