Age Range: 4 to 8
We love Zog! He’s a dragon who wants to do well at school but has problems when he tries to learn new skills. However, his story is great for showing that with perseverance you can become successful and good at something. The story also shows the development of his friendship with Princess Pearl, she’s not the kind of princess who wants to sit around the palace in a frilly dress, she has ambitions and dreams of helping others and ultimately helps Zog to choose his own career.
The Story: Zog is a very keen pupil at Madam Dragon’s school but he is also very accident prone. Each year he learns a new skill which ends in disaster and each year a kind little girl comes to his rescue and treats his injuries. The little girl is Princess Pearl and when Zog captures her and takes her back to school she stays to help take care of the dragons. When a knight arrives to rescue Princess Pearl she announces that she wants to be a doctor. Madam Dragon is delighted when Zog announces his career plans which will complement Princess Pearl’s choice.
This is an entertaining story which shows that learning new skills takes practice. Zog’s aim is to receive a gold star – flying, breathing fire and roaring are all on the curriculum as is capturing a princess. We love Princess Pearl and her ambition to become a doctor and help others, she’s definitely a lady who knows her own mind but is also kind and compassionate. The relationship that develops between her and Zog is at the heart of the story and ultimately shows that one good turn deserves another.
One of our favourite illustrations is on the title page and shows Zog’s parents and baby sibling waving goodbye to him as he goes to school. Zog grows throughout the story and in the final spread is big enough to begin his new career. It is amazing how many wonderful expressions Axel Scheffler has captured on the different dragons’ faces, especially Zog’s when he doesn’t manage to get his lessons right. The dragons are all different colours and this gives a great opportunity for younger children to consolidate their colour recognition skills.
Zog has been translated into several languages, my daughter was delighted when she discovered an extract from the story in her German reading book.
Author: Julia Donaldson / Illustrator: Axel Scheffler