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  • Writer's pictureNZ Booklovers

That's What Dragons Do by Raymond McGrath

A tutu-clad dragon roars and flies, spitting fire into the air while a fairy turns everything sparkly and pink, before an alien space robot zooms and zips through space.

The wild and imaginative play of two little girls before bedtime gets more and more rowdy, with everything from dragons to fire trucks to cupcake fairies and differ-dumper drivers and spaceships. That is until Dad comes to tuck them in and turn out the light.

Author Raymond McGrath's energetic illustrations bring something unique that will appeal to younger readers. They are bright and full of energy and imagination. The book design is also spot on, with bold fonts and flowing text.

This is a fun book to read aloud - not only is it packed with alliteration and onomatopoeia, it offers plenty of opportunities to throw yourself into the reading with different voices and volumes to add to the excitement.

Mcgrath strays from the formulaic picture book rhyme - thank goodness - but he does follow a formula which allows younger readers to easily pick up how to 'read' the book.

While it shouldn't be a big deal, it was also really nice to read a children's story where gender role stereotypes are broken. It might not seem like much, but a Dad doing bedtime with his children, a girl driving a digger, and even two girls taking part in imaginative play of firefighters and robots was a lovely touch. I have two daughters and the play in the book certainly reflects their imagination.

McGrath dedicates the book to his four children - who always seem to confuse bedtime with playtime. It's a dilemma many adults know too well. This makes That's What Dragons Do an enjoyable read for adults too, and it might even help you stop and reflect on the magic of childhood. The book feels like a bit of a hidden gem - while it's packed full of fun and energy, on reflection McGrath's subtle messages pack some power.

That's What Dragons Do is a fun and energetic book that celebrates the idea that play is play. A delightful read.

Reviewed by Rebekah Lyell

Scholastic, RRP $19.99


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