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My Father's Dragon
My Father's Dragon book cover
Author Ruth Stiles Gannett
Illustrator Ruth Chrisman Gannett
Country United States
Language English
Series My Father's Dragon trilogy
Genre Children's novel
Publisher Random House
Publication date
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Followed by Elmer and the Dragon 

My Father's Dragon is a 1948 children's novel by Ruth Stiles Gannett, with illustrations by her stepmother Ruth Chrisman Gannett.

The novel is about a young boy, Elmer Elevator, who runs away to Wild Island to rescue a baby dragon. Both a Newbery Honor Book and an ALA Notable Book, it is the first book of a trilogy whose other titles are Elmer and the Dragon and The Dragons of Blueland. All three were published in a 50-year anniversary edition as Three Tales of My Father's Dragon. In 1997, it was made into an anime film titled, Elmer's Adventure: My Father's Dragon, while the character Boris the Dragon was produced into a Plush toy designed by Sunflower Publishing Company and released in the fall of the same year. Netflix will also release a film adaptation in 2021.

The narrative mode is unusual in that the narrator refers to the protagonist only as "my father", giving the impression that this is a true story that happened long ago. The other two books in the trilogy are narrated in the third person.

The illustrations are by Ruth Chrisman Gannett and hand-drawn in black and white with a grease crayon on grained paper. Gannett also illustrated a number of other children's and adult books, including Tortilla Flat by John Steinbeck.

The book is in the public domain, as its copyright was not renewed after 28 years.


A boy named Elmer finds a cat in the street. The cat tells him about Wild Island. Elmer goes there. He escapes on a ship, disguising as wheat but later being mistaken as dried corn on the cob. Once Elmer's there, he faces challenges, including seven tigers, two wild boars, a rhinoceros and a gorilla. At last, he has to walk across seventeen crocodiles to find the dragon.

Awards, nominations, and recognition

My Father's Dragon was one runner-up for the 1949 Newbery Medal, by which the American Library Association annually recognizes the year's best American children's book. It was also nominated for the Ambassador Book Award in 1948.

Based on a 2007 online poll, the National Education Association listed it as one of "Teachers' Top 100 Books for Children". In 2012 it was ranked number 49 among all-time children's novels in a survey published by School Library Journal.

Film, TV or theatrical adaptations

In 1997, the book was made into a Japanese anime film titled, Elmer's Adventure: My Father's Dragon. It starred Yu-ki as Elmer Elevator and Megumi Hayashibara as Boris the dragon.

In 2011, the book was adapted into an American children's stage musical by Travis Tagart.

In 2018, Netflix announced that the book will be adapted into an animated feature film of the same name by Irish animation studio Cartoon Saloon for a 2021 release. Nora Twomey was announced as the director with Meg LeFauve as the film's screenwriter.

Other formats

A public domain online edition of My Father's Dragon, a 1949 Newbery Honor Book, is available at A Celebration of Women Writers.

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