Review: A Gold Star for Zog by Julia Donaldson

gold star for zog

A Gold Star for Zog by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler

Zog is a young dragon who desperately wants to win a gold star in his dragon classes.  Unfortunately, he isn’t having much luck.  Flying classes ended with him crashing into a tree, though he was patched up with a band-aid from a young girl.  In Year Two, Zog learned how to roar.  The same girl, a little older now, offered him a peppermint for his scratchy throat after he tried too hard.  The next year, Zog learned how to breathe fire but set his own wing on fire.  Again, the girl was there to bandage his wing.  The final test was to capture a princess.  Zog tried and tried, but could not manage it.  The girl showed up and revealed herself as a princess and offered to be captured by Zog.  Zog got a gold star from his teacher, and the princess revealed herself to want to be a doctor instead.  To find out how it all works out, you will have to quest into the story for yourself.

Told in a rhyme that is great fun to read aloud, this book is fanciful and humorous.  Donaldson has nicely melded dragons and princesses with a classroom setting, achievement and aspiring to be something else.  The princess character is nicely integrated throughout the story, though at first readers are not sure she is anything other than a girl with a medical kit.  That reveal is done nicely and then her further dreams to be something else add a freshness to the tale.

Scheffler has created zingy art filled with bright colors, action and plenty of prat falls.  The class of dragons in a rainbow of colors alone is enough to brighten any book.  Scheffler’s style keeps the dragons friendly and cartoon-like, making the book particularly fun to read. 

A great pick for reading aloud to elementary and preschool classes, this book’s dragons and humor will have it soaring high.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from library copy.

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