Dear Dragon: A Pen Pal Tale, by Josh Funk | Book Review
The Children’s Book Review | March 20, 2017
Written by Josh Funk
Illustrated by Rodolfo Montalvo
Hardback Book: 40 pages
Age Range: 3-8
Publisher: Viking for Young Readers
What to expect: Dragons, friendship, pen pals
George shows up to school one day to learn that he has a new assignment: write to a pen pal. Elsewhere, in a land far away, Blaise shows up to school to find the same assignment. Blaise and George have been thrown together as ready friends. But can they learn to love writing while getting to know one another?
Two seemingly similar boys, and an unremarkable task. Only, little readers will quickly point out that everything is not as it should be. George is a human boy, and Blaise is a real live dragon! Neither knows the other is an entirely different species. Was there a mixup in the pen pal department?
The boys go back and forth through hilarious letter exchanges, and readers are treated to pictures of what actually happened, and what each little friend thinks happened. George tells Blaise that he and his dad built a fort (and we see it’s made from cardboard and umbrellas) and Blaise reads the letter thinking that two dragons are building a mighty castle-like fort of wood and stone! Then George reads about Blaise’s fire-breathing father, and thinks that he’s a man in the circus who pretends to spout flames. Little does he know that on the next page, we see Blaise’s dad light up the night sky with a mighty roar!
At the end, Blaise and George meet at a fateful cross-classroom picnic.
“My pen pal is a dragon?”
Then the two high-five. Best friends forever, indeed. What clever elementary school teachers to devise such a cunning plan.
This fantastic book will delight children, who will enjoy pointing out the silly scenes each boy (dragon and human) thinks the other is in. The letters make for some great situational comedy! The whole story is told in rhyme, which is delightful and not at all cloying. It’s very cleverly done, and the story structure is highly original. Once children understand the concept, they’ll want to read it again and again.
The watercolor illustrations are detailed, colorful and unique. I especially appreciated the diverse cast of characters, and the conversation this book can raise with little ones. Sometimes it seems that you may not have anything in common with another person, but George and Blaise show us that we are all more alike than not!
About Josh Funk
Josh Funk (joshfunkbooks.com) lives in New England with his wife and children. He has never had a dragon as a pen pal, but he once wrote a letter to Corduroy (and sent along a spare button). He’s the author of the picture books Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast, Pirasaurs!, and more. Follow him on Twitter @joshfunkbooks.
About Rodolfo Montalvo
Rodolfo Montalvo (rodolfomontalvo.com) grew up in Long Beach, California. He received a B.F.A. in illustration from California State University, Fullerton. He has illustrated children’s books including The Contagious Colors of Mumpley Middle School and The Amazing Wilmer Dooley, both written by Fowler Dewitt. He currently lives with his wife in the Los Angeles area. Follow him on Twitter @RMontalvo3.
Dear Dragon, by Josh Funk and Rodolfo Montalvo, was reviewed by Denise Mealy. Discover more books like Dear Dragon by following along with our reviews and articles tagged with Dragons, Humorous Books, Josh Funk, and Rodolfo Montalvo.