Education Resource Center

John Ronald’s Dragons

The Story of J.R.R. Tolkien

By Caroline McAlister
Illustrated by Eliza Wheeler
Roaring Brook Press
36 pages

Have you heard of the books and movies called The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings?  This is the story about the author of those books, John Ronald Reuel Tolkien.  He was a boy with a strong imagination and a fondness for dragons.  John Ronald imagined dragons everywhere – at his school, in the church, in his aunt’s basement and on the battlefield. When he visited his cousin Mary on holiday from school, they made up their own language. As a young man, he met and married and went off to fight in the First World War.  After he returned, he became a professor at Oxford and exchanged stories with literary friends. Always a storyteller, he wrote the story of Bilbo Baggins, The Hobbit, to read to his children, and in his writings is where he found his dragon – Smaug.

The illustrations by Eliza Wheeler reveal John Ronald’s vivid imagination and more information about his life. For readers interested in more information, there are extensive notes by the author and illustrator, a bibliography, a catalog of Tolkien’s dragons, and quotes about dragons from his writings.

This would be an interesting book to introduce a class of third to fifth graders to the art of writing.  After reading the book, invite the class to come up with a list of ideas that they imagine (i.e. super powers, flying, winning the lottery, etc.) and write them on the board.  Ask the class to use their imaginations and write a story about one of these ideas.
Ages 4-8.

This entry was posted in Book Review 2017.