By Author / Illustrator
Fairy Tales & Folk Tales
Frances Lincoln Publishers Ltd
By the author of Once Upon a Unicorn Horn, shortlisted for the 2020 Waterstones Children's Book Prize.
The second title in a new series about how magical creatures came to have their gifts. Do you know how dragons got their fire? It all began once upon a magic kingdom, when a fearsome, terrifying dragon stalked the land. He was so mean he ate kittens for breakfast, he was so scary he made children scream, and he was so evil that he blew huge storms out of his jaws, which is why it was always so cold.
Or so the stories said. When two children called Freya and Sylas met the dragon, they found something very different indeed...
What a treat to hold another visually stunning picture book and fictional fantasy story from Beatrice Blue. Children of all ages will love poring over the incredible detail in Once Upon A Dragon's Fire. Diversity in books is incredibly important and this black, Asian, ethnic minority (BAME) book is a must-have for every book shelf.
This book makes immediate connections to extremely successful books children have previously enjoyed. Freya and Sylas hear about a dragon with 'long, sharp claws and terrifying teeth' and decide to go on a hunt to find it - expressing the ever familiar, 'I'm not scared'. They travel through a big storm that blows the warmth out of their town and determine this must, of course, be the 'evil' work of the dragon! The journey takes Freya and Sylas up a 'high, windy mountain' until they reach - a cave! They could see 'two big yellow eyes' and step inside, where they met the dragon. However, in an unexpected turn of events, they discover the dragon isn't quite what they expected. This is the start of another fantasy adventure!
This book is best read held close to appreciate all of the intricate detail in the illustrations. Beatrice Blue gives us a real treat with a double page spread that opens up to reveal the flaming dragon - rich with reds, yellows, oranges and purples!
It leaves us with the upmost inspiring words, 'We can only truly discover something with our own eyes and even on the coldest days, a spark can come from something as tiny as a new story'.
Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Jessica Bunney, teacher
Suggested Reading Age 5+
This is the sweetest tale about how the dragon came to breathe fire. Who would have thought it; this notorious mythical creature has been misunderstood all this time?! It all began once upon a time in a magical kingdom. A kingdom dominated by stories passed down for generations about a beastly dragon that stalked the land causing mayhem and destruction wherever he went. Freya and Sylas know all about the 'evil' dragon - everyone does - and their love of reading leads them to some of the most fascinating and both frightening stories of the dragon who 'ate kittens for breakfast' and 'blew huge storms out of his nostrils'.
These two brave children decided one day that they would set out to look for the dragon and they would stop him for good. After their journey high up the windy mountains they entered the dragon's lair, fully expecting to be greeted with a ferocious creature with sharp teeth and terrifying claws. Only, this is not what they find at all. The dragon was cold, lonely and sad. They had to help him! And they did, the best way they knew how. The two girls read to the dragon, they read a new story, one that had never been told before; a true story, about a very beautiful and kind dragon who reminded people to stay together and be good to one another. This story lit up the heart of the dragon and the warmth burst out in flames!
The illustrations in this book are stunning, the vibrant colours draw you in to this magical place and I love a secret page reveal!
Dragon stories are a firm favourite for young readers and this book will be no exception. The story promotes reading and how it sparks curiosity. It is a book that can be used in and out of school to explore its messages about love and friendship, reading for pleasure and importantly to not misjudge something or someone without seeing for yourself first.
Children could be asked to write their own tales about dragons that go against the perception that these creatures are to be feared, what could they do to make it a nice dragon? There is also lots of opportunities to use this book as a stimulus for writing setting and character descriptions. A great read!
Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Nikki Stiles, teacher
Suggested Reading Age 5+
The illustrations are beautiful! This book has so many meanings, hidden messages, and themes: friendship, love of reading, love, loneliness, being misjudged and facing your fears all feature within this picture book. However, the overriding message is that of not judging a book by its cover. The book can be used to explore any of these themes with children.
The author, Beatrice Blue, has very cleverly put this title together with well thought out language that is accessible for children aged six and over, although, my four-year-old loved the story, thanks to the incredible pictures. The illustrations support the text so well that upon additional reads the story could be retold without the text.
Once Upon a Dragon's Fire sees two children, Sylas and Freya, share a love of reading. Their favourite story is all about an evil dragon. The whole village talks about the mythical beast. It is said that the dragon 'is so mean that he ate kittens for breakfast!' There are many negative rumours about the dragon that perpetuates throughout the town. However, no one has ever seen it!
When something terrible happens in the town, people know who to blame; the dragon. Freya and Sylas head off in search of a solution. Their bravery sees them face their fears and enter the dragon's lair, but their expectations are shattered when the dragon does not have sharp teeth or a deafening roar: he just looks sad and lonely. The duo knows exactly what to do.
This is a beautiful, meaningful story with absolutely breath-taking illustrations. Once Upon A Dragon's fire is a story that is not just a must-read but a must-read more than once. Trust me, you will get different meanings each time.
Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by James Hewish, teacher
Suggested Reading Age 5+