Newest Review: ... As the quote above says, he tries his hardest every day to win a precious golden star, but unfortunately never quite manages it. The st... more
Zog The Dragon Goes To School
Zog - Julia Donaldson
Member Name: hotrock4
Zog - Julia Donaldson
Advantages: Great story, illustrations, and educational benefit
I was recently in my local supermarket when I saw that there were a number of titles on offer that Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler have collaborated on, the fact that they were 2 for £7 instantly drew me to them as our daughter loves Room On The Broom by the same author and illustrator. The Gruffalo was actually the first book that I picked up as it is a childhood favourite of mine, I also chose Zog as I recently remember it being read as a bedtime story on TV, and it is Zog that I am reviewing here.
The cover of the book is attractive with a host of brightly coloured dragons with Zog the orange dragon in the centre sporting a gold star, the overall design of the cover is effective at grabbing a child's attention before even opening the book. The cover has a highly glossed finish making it easy to wipe clean, with the pages inside whilst not quite so glossy are still resistant enough to be able to wipe off spills without any damage. The pages are just about thick enough to avoid being torn easily but can be creased and folded easily especially as they are quite large pages, but all in all quite a durable book.
As with all Julia Donaldson books the way that this book has been written is absolutely brilliant and really effective at captivating not only the attention of the little ones but also their imaginations. This is another of Julia Donaldson's titles that rhymes throughout which is one of the reasons I like it, as it keeps our daughter who is not reading herself yet engaged as the story flows well when read aloud to her. The flow of the book helps our daughter to point at the words as they are read, as it is very rhythmic to read aloud allowing words to be read at a constant rate that is easy to point along to, making this a brilliant aid in our quest to teach her to read.
The story itself follows Zog the dragon as he goes to school and it turns out that he is the keenest dragon there, and will do anything within his power to achieve the reward of a gold star. Unfortunately Zog is also the most accident prone dragon at school which means that despite his best efforts to earn a gold star he is foiled at every turn by an unfortunate incident of some description.
In year one Madame Dragon teaches the dragons how to fly and Zog crashes into a tree, but fortunately for him a girl comes by and offers a plaster for his head and off he flies again. Each year the dragons learn something new, how to roar, blow fire and how to rescue a princess. Zog manages to roar his throat hoarse, and set his wing on fire, then cannot seem to rescue a princess no matter how hard he tries. It's then that the girl comes by that has given Zog a throat sweet and bandaged his wing and offers to be his princess, it's then that Zog finally gets his gold star finally decides what he wants to do having finished dragon school. Following a confrontation with the knight that comes to rescue Zog's princess the story ends with a morally correct lesson and I won't spoil it any further than saying everybody lives happily after.
This sums up the story as far I feel is necessary to decide whether this book is suitable for your child or not, despite the subject matter of dragons possibly being scary Julia Donaldson has done a brilliant job of making them all seem as friendly as possible, and the fact that the girl in the book is friends with Zog instantly relieves any fear of nasty dragons. Overall a great story with a good ending that I do not want to spoil so I think it best to leave this part of the review where it is.
Axel Scheffler has once again done a brilliant job of complimenting the work that Julia Donaldson has put into the story. With the best part of all of the pages given up to his illustrations Axel Scheffler has done a brilliant job of keeping the illustrations not only interesting but highly relevant to the text that they are displayed next to. The illustrations are not over complicated but this is the beauty of them, they are highly colourful which engages little brains, with little extras drawn in that children are likely to recognise such as a bird peeking out behind a tree or a frog or rabbit somewhere in the scenery, which makes them great for recall of words when just flicking through the book and not actually reading the story, which our daughter is able to do on her own despite not being able to read yet.
The illustrations really do make this book everything that it can be when combined with the story of Zog, they transform it into something our daughter can use on her own which makes her feel grown up, or great for teaching her words whilst we are reading it to her. With a blue, pink, orange, green, red and yellow dragon included in the illustrations they are also great for teaching colours in an interesting way. Axel Scheffler has also done a great job of making the dragons as appealing and friendly as a dragon possibly can be despite the roaring and fire-breathing so the illustrations shouldn't provoke any bad dreams either.
As mentioned in my Room on the Broom review I feel that overall the illustrations add to the charm, readability and educational value of this book immensely, and whilst adding greatly to the appeal of the book do nothing to detract attention from the story instead only complimenting it in the best way possible.
Overall in my opinion this is another great collaboration from Alex Scheffler and Julia Donaldson and it come as no surprise that this won Galaxy National Children's Book of the Year 2010, and I feel that this may well be another book from this author and illustrator that may well prove to be a classic in its own time. It has certainly become a much loved book in the week and a bit that we have had in our house with the chant of "Zog, Zog, Zog" being a regular occurrence whilst our daughter marches round with this book above her head demanding it to be read to her.
I feel the fact that a child that is not quite two years old yet is frequently picking up not only Zog, but Room on the Broom, and The Gruffalo is a tribute to Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler's in itself as it takes a lot to make a child of this age decide that they actually want to sit down and take an interest in a book rather than running havoc and stressing out daddy in any way possible. It is a definite treat when our daughter finds one of Julia Donaldson's books most recently Zog and decides she wants to sit still and read and point her way through for the ten minutes that it takes to read it.
Zog is most definitely another title from Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler that will be getting the full complement of 5/5 stars from me, as I think the story and illustrations are great and it certainly seems to be educating our daughter as "roar" and "princess" are just two of the new words in her vocabulary this week despite us having tried to teach her these words previously. I would recommend this book even at the full RRP of £6.99 but there shouldn't be a need to pay this much as this can be picked up for less than £2 delivered second hand online.
A brilliant child's story that our niece and nephew also enjoyed aged 5 and 7 so should hopefully be a decent investment and a book that will be read many times in the years to come.
Summary: Great book, educational and entertaining.