Who Feels Mad, Dear Dragon? – Margaret Hillert

Illustrations – Jack Pullan

After my love of dragons was encouraged by Margaret Hillert’s Es Halloween, querido dragón / It’s Halloween, Dear Dragon I scoured NetGalley for more books by this author and illustrator, Jack Pullan.

In Who Feels Mad, Dear Dragon?, Dear Dragon and unnamed boy have both got their cranky pants on. No matter what they’re asked to do, they simply don’t want to. Mother and father each tell them not to get mad and after doing the activity they were spitting the dummy over, unnamed boy and Dear Dragon decide they either enjoyed the activity or that it was good for them after all. A lot of the activities centred around going to bed. Dear Dragon and unnamed boy get up the next day with a new attitude, decide that they won’t get mad and will have a good day.

Now, these parents must be saints, remaining calm regardless of their child and dragon’s bad behaviour. Personally I was disappointed that not once was an apology given by the boy or dragon and there didn’t appear to be any consequences at all for their bad behaviour. The boy attends school so surely he’s too old to be chucking tantrums where he’s laying in bed after being tucked in with the covers off, kicking and punching the air, isn’t he? I wouldn’t have gotten away with behaviour like that without consequences at any age.

Frustrations aside, this book is part of the Beginning-to-Read series and as I expect an adult will be reading this book to the child, at least initially, there is the opportunity for engagement with the child about Dear Dragon and unnamed boy’s behaviour. If I was reading this to a child I’d be getting them to think about the way the characters behaved, when they should have apologised, and how they could have better managed being mad about what they’d been asked to do.

There’s good use of word repetition and a Reading Reinforcement section at the back of the book that assists the adult to help the reader get more out of the book. The Reading Reinforcement has activities relating to phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency and text comprehension. There’s also a list of the 73 words found in the book.

I love Jack Pullan’s illustrations again in this book. I liked the pictures in the Halloween Dear Dragon book more but that is solely due to the fun that could be had with that book’s subject matter. The illustrations in this book are still brightly coloured and well suited to the story. The expressions on Dear Dragon and unnamed boy’s faces clearly show when they are mad and when they are happy.

For a book that helps children learn to read, it seems to tick all of the right boxes. However, if I wanted a book to help teach a child how to deal with anger, I would be looking for one that has consequences for bad behaviour and that provides age appropriate ways of managing emotions without chucking a tantrum.

Thank you very much to NetGalley and Norwood House Press for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

A boy and his pet dragon feel mad when asked to do daily tasks. Together they learn to manage their anger and find that completing their tasks is a good thing. Emphasises the importance of controlling the emotion of anger. Teacher resources include note to caregivers, word list, reading activities to strengthen phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension. 

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