I got a copy of this book to read with my five year old son. It is a very fun and clever childrens read with some great lessons and some wonderful illustrations.
When Elmer Elevator hears about the plight of a poor overworked baby dragon from an old neighborhood cat he is determined to save the dragon. He travels to Wild Island and, through a series of crazy events, saves the dragon from the animals keeping it prisoner.
This book was first published in 1948 and I am amazed at how well it has aged. The writing is fairly simple and is definitely at a younger level but it still made for an excellent story. There are a couple spots where the language is a bit archaic but not many.
Elmer Elevator encounters a number of less than friendly animals and for each encounter he finds a clever (and sometimes hilarious) way to distract the animals. For example he gives the rhino a toothbrush and toothpaste for his very dirty horn and he gives the tigers chewing gum. It was great fun to see how Elmer would combat the next group of animals.
Additionally all the lands have wonderfully fun names. Elmer lives in the land of Popsicornia and travels through Tangerina (known for its tangerines) to get to Wild Island.
Elmer uses cleverness instead of violence or force to get through his adventures. He also frees the poor baby dragon from slavery. All while eating tangerines. The only part of the story parents might object to is the fact that Elmer runs away from his parents at the age of nine to do all of this.
My son loved this book and immediately wanted to start on the second book of the trilogy, Elmer and the Dragon. The pictures throughout are fun and wonderfully done. They match the tone of the story excellently.
Overall a wonderful fantasy read for children. This is a chapter book but is written at a lower reading level that is easy for younger children (5+) to understand even if they cant quite read it yet. Elmer uses cleverness and humor to survive his noble adventure. The wonderful pictures only add to the excellent story. Highly recommended to read with kids, especially those interested in adventure and fantasy.
"Here is a real delight-a nonsense tale in which the ingenuity of the humor and the logic of the nonsense are irresistible. The text and decorative and amusing black-and-white pictures tell the story of a small boy's trip to rescue an overworked dragon from a jungle island bristling with wild beasts." The New Yorker
A group of lazy animals on Wild Island have captured a baby dragon and put him to work. The little dragon can fly, so they are forcing him to act as a flying ferry across a dangerous river. The dragon doesn't like it.
So goes the story that reaches a kind-hearted boy name Elmer Elevator ("my father"). Elmer, carrying a bag of most unusual supplies to beguile the nasty inhabitants of Wild Island and free the dragon is one of the most exciting adventures ever.