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The Library Dragon

Page history last edited by Constance Cosmas 10 years, 5 months ago



Plot Summary


The Library Dragon, by Carmen Agra Deedy is a fictional picture book that tells the story of a lonely grade school librarian at Sunrise Elementary by the name of Miss Lotta Scales.  However, Miss Lotta Scales is no ordinary librarian seeing as she is a dragon who doesn’t even let the children touch the books in her library. 


“Her motto was, “A place for everything,

and that’s where it stays”” (Deedy).


The book falls under the genre of fiction because of the element that Miss Lotta Scales is a dragon for majority of the book and also the way she acts towards the children.  The students would often go to library time and come back charred or singed from Miss Lotta Scales burning them with her fire breath.  Realistically having a dragon librarian is not possible nor is the fact that she inflicts harm on the children and still has her job.

To condense the book into a brief plot summary we must cover just a few key points throughout the book.  The book begins with Sunrise Elementary School getting their new librarian, Miss Lotta Scales, who plans to right away make extreme changes to the school’s library.  She takes her job of guarding the books to a new high when she replaces all the old books with new clean ones and insists that the books are not to be touched and are for display only.  Obviously, the students and faculty did not like this very much as going to library time became more of a fright than an enjoyment.  As I mentioned earlier, some of the students would even come back singed or charred from library time.  After some time, the principal and several members of the teaching staff, even sweet Miss Lemon from kindergarten, decided it was time to discuss the situation with Miss Lotta Scales.  Unfortunately, all their attempts fail and it wasn’t until a few moments later when a student by the name of Molly Brickmeyer happens to accidentally walk into the library in hopes of finding her lost glasses, would things in the library begin to change.  Molly, who cannot see, unknowingly breaks the rules, picks up a book, and begins to read out loud as some other classmates gather around to listen.  Miss Lotta Scales realizes that the students are actually enjoying the book and as she joins them to take over reading aloud to the children her scales slowly fall to the floor revealing just Miss Lotty, the librarian. 


Textual Elements


The Library Dragon, takes place in Sunrise Elementary mostly either in the hallways or classrooms.  I think it was extremely effective of Deedy to place this story in an elementary school because realistically this is the first time students are exposed to the concept of the library as well as books and reading in depth.  Also, it shows the effects that specific librarians and educators can have on children at this crucial time of learning.  While Miss Lotta Scales is a terrible librarian the students have no desire to learn, however, when Miss Lotty loses her scales, “The rest of the children warmed up to Miss Lotty right away.” (Deedy). 

Throughout the book there are only a few main characters whose actions impact the plot.  They are Miss Lotta Scales, the principal, Miss Lemon, and Molly Brickmeyer.  Miss Lotta Scales, as mentioned in the plot summary, is hired as the new school librarian who enforces strict rules and takes away all the fun of reading for the students.  She is illustrated as a green dragon that constantly expends smoke but towards the end of the book sheds her scales to reveal a blonde woman with glasses.

The principal of Sunrise Elementary is introduced when he decides to try and reason with Miss Scales.  However, as he tries to assert his authority as principal his plan backfires immediately revealing to readers which character really has the power in the situation.  This is evident in their brief conversation:


““And finally, don’t forget who does the hiring, Miss Scales,” sputtered the principal.

“Oh really? And who does the firing?” asked Miss Scales with a glare and a flare that caught his tie on fire.

“Now cut that out,” said the principal as he waved the smoke out of his face.

“No smoking in the Library,” Miss Lotta Scales said drily.” (Deedy)


Miss Lemon, the kindergarten teacher, is presented in the book as the sweet blonde kindergarten teacher who bravely tries to reason with Miss Scales while the other teachers and faculty cower in fear covered in pots and pans from the kitchen as protection.

Also, Molly Brickmeyer is another main character.  Molly is a red-headed student who, without the aid of her classes, can barely see anything.  When a book happens to stumble into Molly’s lap in the library she begins to read out loud holding the book right next to her face, the only way she can see it.  When she reads she gains the attention of all other students in the library and even appeals to Miss Scales better nature causing her scales to fall. 


Artistic Elements 


As far as artistic elements in this book there are plenty of examples and illustrations to choose from.  Every page in the book has a full edge to edge illustration leaving not a single page without a colorful depiction of what is happening on that page’s according text.  The illustrations are extremely colorful and detailed down to the individual scales on Miss Scale’s claws.  The text then appears on top of the illustrations always in black ink and a very reader friendly, basic font.  There are some pages where the text is in paragraph form for a portion of the page, while others are tucked into smaller parts of the page or to form around the illustration.  Also, the illustrator, Michael P. White, does something with the blank space that I find extremely effective and entertaining throughout the book.  There are some illustrations where there would be negative space, for example the school hallways, but what White does is fill them with clever posters or flyers with sayings applying to the elements of the book.  For example on the second page of the book it depicts Miss Scales at her desk with some various objects labeled with text adding a bit of humor and irony to the situation.  Behind her desk there is a sign that reads, “Do Not Touch The Books For Display Only”, as well as her one claw inside a small metal box that reads, “PENCIL AND CLAW SHARPENER”.  The first is ironic because she is setting the rule that in a library the books cannot be touched which defeats the whole purpose of having a library.  The second adds humor because she is using the pencil sharpener as a multi-purpose claw sharpener that no one else would even think to use it for. 


Analysis and Critique


Overall The Library Dragon, was an extremely enjoyable picture book as well as an easy read for young readers.  The author effectively incorporates elements that apply to young students by using the concepts of library time and librarians to capture attention while using fictional elements such as Miss Scales and her dragon appearance to tell the story.  The book has a lot of relevancy to young children because at their age they are just being exposed to libraries and such giving them an interest in the topic.  The illustrations and style of writing are interesting and keep readers hooked until the very end.  Also, the use of tucked away illustrations that are not the center of attention was entertaining as well as effective to go along with the story plot and messages. 




Deedy, Carmen Agra. The Library Dragon. Illus. Michael P. White. New York, NY: Scholastic Inc. 1996.





Will need to look up format for the type of source used.



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