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The Loathsome Dragon



Last updated Thursday, August 23, 2007

Author: David Wiesner and Kim Kahng
Date of Publication: 2005
ISBN: 0618543597
Grade Level: 3rd    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Sep. 2007

Synopsis: From School Library Journal: Wiesner and Kahng's 1987 retelling of a retelling of an English folktale based on an 18th-century ballad has been revised with a briefer, more accessible text, some reworked illustrations, a new cover, and an added source note. With her brother Richard (Childe Wynd in the earlier version) gone to see the world, Princess Margaret is left to console her widowed father until his remarriage to a beautiful enchantress. Consumed by jealousy, the new queen turns Margaret into a Loathsome Dragon that terrorizes the kingdom. With advice from a mighty wizard, the people keep the dragon's hunger under control and send a message to Prince Richard to return as only he can break the spell. Despite the queen's attempt to foil this plan, Richard manages to reverse the enchantment, freeing Margaret and turning the queen into a Loathsome Toad by means of a magic rowan twig. The artwork in this version is more vivid, and the softly colored and patterned frames have been replaced with white borders that make the pictures less remote. As in the original, the dragon seems intentionally benign rather than loathsome, suggesting the trapped princess within. The uncomplicated telling and appealing double-page paintings make this a good introduction to the folk genre.

Note to readers:
•  Vocabulary words: loathsome, bewitched, enchanted.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Have you ever seen a dragon? Do dragons live in California? Where do dragons live?
•  Have you ever met a king and queen or prince and princess?
•  Does the United States have a king and queen? Do you know any countries that do? (Great Britain, Monaco, Spain, Japan, Denmark…)

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Do you believe in magic?
•  Do you have a stepmother or stepfather? Are all stepmothers and stepfathers evil?
•  Can the dragon help that she’s hungry?
•  Would you kiss the dragon? How would you know the dragon’s voice was not a trick?
•  Would you save your sister or brother by doing something dangerous to yourself?

Craft ideas:
•  Make a dragon picture. Cut out different size triangles and glue them in a straight or curvy line on a piece of construction paper. Draw in the flames and eyes. Color a picture in the background—a castle, the mountains etc… to finish off the picture. -
•  Make a dragon mobile. Cut out 5 medium circles, 2 long triangles (for the flame and tail), and 3 medium triangle for scales or 2 medium triangles for wings. Glue the flame and tail on two of the circles. Draw eyes or scales or other designs on the 3 remaining circles. Attach/glue the scales or wings to the remaining 3 circles. Put holes in each of the circles to attach them with string/yarn.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!