Since Donita K Paul has graduated to become one of my all-time favorite authors, I jumped at the chance to read the new children's book, The Dragon and the Turtle Go On Safari written by Paul with Evangeline Denmark and illustrated by Vincent Nguyen.
In this story Padraig (the dragon) and Roger (the turtle) are on a safari. Padraig is just a bit scared of the dark as they are sitting around a small campfire. Their imaginations soar. A hooting owl becomes a "howler monkey" and a squirrel in the top of the trees becomes a "giraffe" in their imaginations. They talk about how exciting it will be on the next day to visit the [fictional] Mount Sillymanborrow. As the night progresses the boys eventually get a little sleep, but are awakened by "a rare Sumatran rhinoceros" (a dog) and scared enough, they finally decide that perhaps they should return home for some sleep and continue their adventure in the morning. As they enter their home, they delightfully find that morning has arrived and they achieved a major accomplishment by staying out all night in the tent!
First of all, the illustrations are adorable. Nguyen did a fantastic job! I love the colors and the pictures seem to display the emotions of the story well. This should help keep your child's imagination running while you read along to them, even if they don't catch everything that is going on.
In the story, Roger is an excellent friend to Padraig. He never makes fun of Padraig for being scared. He talks to him gently and encourages him to be brave. They model good friendship with each other. While I know from experience that Donita K. Paul is a Christian and the other books I have read by her certainly display her beliefs and values, this story is pretty much neutral. The characters model excellent traits, but other than that there are no references to God, praying, etc. In the back cover of the book there is one Bible verse quoted (Deuteronomy 31:6) along with some great ideas for parents to extend the story with their children. I found the ideas very helpful! There is also an extra story: "The Story Roger Did Not Get to Tell--The Legend of Mount Sillymanborrow."
You might need to explain to your child why Roger and Padraig pretended that an owl was a "howler monkey" or a squirrel was a "giraffe". When is it ok to use our imaginations and when do we need to face the truth? Sometimes imagining silly things can help the fear go away. Have you ever been scared or startled by something silly? (ie: a frog, a mouse, a bug) How did you handle it? Talk about these things with your child who may be scared of something (especially the dark or camping outside or going to a sleepover). Consider reading them The Dragon and the Turtle Go on Safari, then plan your own safari adventure to practice being brave.
I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from Waterbrook Press. My thoughts and opinions are my own.
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