Once Upon a Dragon: Stranger Safety for Kids (and Dragons).


32 pages
ISBN 978-1-55074-969-1
DDC j797.2'0028'9





Illustrations by Martine Gourbault
Reviewed by Anne Hutchings

Anne Hutchings is a public-school teacher and librarian in Ajax,


It seems appropriate, in view of the fact that the original purpose of fairy tales was to caution and/or educate, that Jean Pendziwol chose fairy tale characters to represent the different strangers encountered in Once Upon a Dragon. In this lively and entertaining tale, a young girl goes to the park with her mom and her friend Dragon, who has brought along his teddy bear and storybook. The friends begin with the swings and a race around the park. Then down the slide they hurtle—right into the pages of Dragon’s book!


Told in rhyming couplets, the girl and Dragon travel through the pages of the story meeting many familiar characters and reminding children and caregivers of a number of safety rules: always go places with a buddy; never go with strangers, no matter how enticing (Red Riding Hood’s wolf); don’t accept candy or food from strangers (Hansel and Gretel’s witch); don’t open the door to strangers (Snow White’s wicked Queen). The one detail which raises a question is the depiction of the fairy godmother as the “safe” stranger. What if she is not what she seems?


Young readers will enjoy poring over the pages, picking out the familiar fairy tale characters and details in Martine Gourbault’s playful and appealing pencil-crayon illustrations


The final pages of the book contains another safety rhyme, advice and tips for parents, and a list of safety rules.


Once Upon a Dragon is both an entertaining story and a fine resource for teaching stranger safety. It will be wonderful addition to school, public, and personal library collections. Highly recommended.


Pendziwol, Jean E., “Once Upon a Dragon: Stranger Safety for Kids (and Dragons).,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed February 28, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/32771.