Pros: incredible illustrations, realistic perspective to keep kids interested
Cons: we don't actually OWN it.
I'd be lying if I said that I looked forward to taking my five-year-old son Buster to the library each week to play the summer reading game. While the game DID help us get him to allow us to read to him, it didn't increase his love of books AT ALL and the task of checking out MORE books each week ranked right about the same level as a root canal for me. Luckily, he had another week that a game spin assigned him a reading topic (fantasy or fairy tale) and we found A Practical Guide to Dragons by Lisa Trumbauer with the rest of the librarian's suggestions for that category.
::: The A to Z of Dragons :::
A Practical Guide to Dragons is told from the perspective of an apprentice student of dragons as he learns information from his master. Written as a "non-fiction" book, it breaks dragons into categories (almost like zoology), and includes such "facts" as wingspan and weight, favorite nesting environments, schematics of the dragon's lair, personality type, and usual foes (including likely results from a confrontation).
The book is full of large, full-color illustrations that are beautifully detailed, appealing to the casual reader as well as fantasy/dragon fans. Since the book is written in the style of an apprentice, occasional hand-written "notes" are included as well, making it seem even more real.
::: A Practical Guide to Dragons Had More Than One Fan :::
Usually, my husband and I would argue in the evenings over who had to take on the task of reading to Buster; after all, 20 minutes with a reluctant five-year-old with ants in his pants seemed like a good 20 hours. When A Practical Guide to Dragons was on the schedule for that night, however, not only did we fight over who had reader duty, but Buster was also enthusiastic, often asking for more when his 20 minutes were up (we tried to keep it to his contracted amount to stretch the book out a bit!).
Each evening, our 20 minutes usually covered three dragons, and both Buster and I eagerly looked forward to the following night to learn more about the next set we'd be reading about. The illustrations were vibrant and detailed, and included little tidbits about facial features like horns and teeth that got Buster talking about what we were reading.
A Practical Guide to Dragons appealed to everyone in the house, and usually, the other kids would make an appearance when it was time to read this book to Buster. Both my husband and I enjoyed it immensely as well with its cross-generational appeal. I need to go see if Ms. Trumbauer has written any similar books, because now that it's fall, Buster is again reluctant to be read to. Unless, of course, we head back to the library to check A Practical Guide to Dragons out again.