17 March, 2016

Puff, the magic dragon by Peter Yarrow and Lenny Lipton


There are three picture books that I love above all others – A Lion in the Meadow by Margaret Mahy, The Little Yellow Digger by Betty and Alan Gilderdale, and Puff, the Magic Dragon by Peter Yarrow and Lenny Lipton. They are to picture books what The Famous Five was to children’s fiction - simply the best.

Puff, the Magic Dragon is a song written by Peter Yarrow based on a poem by a young university student, Leonard Lipton, and recorded in 1963 by Yarrow’s band Peter, Paul and Mary

The song tells the story of a dragon called Puff and his friendship with Jackie Paper, a young boy who lives by the sea in a land called Honalee. They are the best of friends, but as Jackie grows up and leaves behind his childhood, so he also leaves behind Puff, who becomes depressed on his own. 

It is one of the most poignant stories about growing up and the loss of childhood innocence you will ever come across. The song, if you have not heard it, is on the accompanying CD and, be warned, is extremely catchy (I am humming it as I write!).

The beautiful illustrations in this edition are by Eric Puybaret, and the snow-capped mountains, forests and castles provide the perfect accompaniment to the story.

Author(s): Peter Yarrow & Lenny Lipton

Reviewed by Nick K, Ranui Library

Nick K enjoys reading crime fiction, demonological adult and young adult fiction, classic children’s fiction like Arthur Ransome and picture books, especially those illustrated by Quentin Blake. He hates reality TV. 

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