Ellie and Her Emotional Dragons

Ellie's First Day of School

Children - Picture Book
34 Pages
Reviewed on 03/07/2021
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite

We all feel a wide range of emotions from time to time: scared, sad, angry, and happy. Not all at once, of course. Ellie is off to her first day of school. While waiting for the school bus, she’s suddenly scared. She doesn’t know anyone on the bus and she doesn’t know anyone at her new school. At least, she doesn’t think she knows anyone. But, tucked away in special compartments of her new backpack, her four emotional dragons are waiting to help when needed. Naz is a green dragon and, when he notices Ellie being scared, he pops out and helps her deal with her fear. Then comes the feeling of sadness when she sits alone in her class and realizes she misses her parents, anger when the class bully is mean to a fellow student, and happy when she realizes she loves school and she’s made a new friend. Each feeling is accompanied by a special emotional dragon that helps Ellie deal with her range of feelings.

Joseph Goodrich’s picture book story, Ellie and Her Emotional Dragons: Ellie’s First Day of School, is a clever way to help young readers deal with the emotional rollercoaster we all feel at times, especially when placed in a new situation. Written in simple language to help young readers follow along and learn to read the story themselves, and accompanied by colorful illustrations, the plot follows Ellie’s first day at school, from waiting for the school bus to settling into her class and meeting the other students. The author has provided the protagonist, Ellie, with powerful tools to help her face new situations: imaginative, friendly emotional dragons. The author addresses the main emotions that affect young people when suddenly placed in a new situation: fear, sadness, anger, and happiness. Each dragon senses the new emotion and is able to help Ellie deal with each emotion. With the use of different animals (Ellie is an elephant) as the children and teacher, the author is also bringing in the issue of diversity and acceptance. Bullying is also presented. This is an action-packed, emotional first day of school. Lots of lessons shared and learned in this little treasure of a book.

Deborah Lloyd

Ellie, a young elephant, experienced many emotions during her first day of school. Beginning with waiting for the school bus she had never ridden in before and meeting children she had never met, she felt scared. Fortunately, she has four magical dragons. Each one assists her in dealing with the emotions of feeling happy, sad, scared, and mad. She also had a new backpack with four pockets, one for each dragon. As the day progressed, she experienced the other three emotions, and each time a magical dragon appeared. She successfully dealt with each new emotion. In the children’s book, Ellie and Her Emotional Dragons: Ellie’s First Day of School, written by Joseph Goodrich, an imaginative way for children to deal with emotions is presented. Any child would be able to call upon one of these imaginative dragons when needed.

When parents read this book to a young child, there are many opportunities to discuss how one feels during normal day activities. Addressing this topic will enable children to identify different emotions, and they will learn ways to voice the emotion and deal with it in a constructive manner. The delightful illustrations by Traci Van Wagoner will capture a child’s attention span. Another important aspect for children to learn is the spectrum of others’ behaviors – from Jacob’s kindness to Curtis’s bullying actions. Author Joseph Goodrich has crafted a wonderful children’s book in Ellie and Her Emotional Dragons: Ellie’s First Day of School. This is the second book of the Ellie series – a great gift for any child.

Jon Michael Miller

Ellie and Her Emotional Dragons by Joseph Goodrich, illustrated wonderfully by Traci Van Wagoner, is a terrific book to teach kids how to deal with their feelings, in particular nervousness, sadness, anger, and happiness. The different characters are pictured as animals. Ellie and her family happen to be elephants, but there’s also a horse, a fox, an alligator, a pig, a frog, and a giraffe (the teacher). And, of course, the four dragons in Ellie’s backpack, each with a different color. It’s Ellie’s first day of school, during which she needs each dragon to help her manage a particular emotion during her new experience. She’s sad to leave her parents, nervous at her new school, angry for someone bullying another student, and happy for having had a nice, interesting day. And it’s all fabulously illustrated in living bursts and splashes of color (which match the moods).

We all could use some helpful dragons living in our briefcases and glove compartments, and Joseph Goodrich’s fun book offers techniques for kids (and adults also) to manage feelings. Every kid is nervous about their first school day, so it’s an excellent starting off point. Sitting with your child and reading this story will give you a way to prepare for school and to explain emotions. The dragons live in Ellie’s backpack and appear when needed. Besides the four featured moods, the book includes the theme of bullying and what to do about it. It also engenders trust in the child for parents, teachers, and friends. There are some great words for little kids to learn: whimper, neighbor, remaining, crayon, tripped, refused, apologize, and happy dance. Joseph Goodrich’s clever, colorful Ellie and Her Emotional Dragons will be a big hit alike with kids, parents, and teachers.

Joe Wisinski

Ellie and Her Emotional Dragons: Ellie's First Day of School by Joseph Goodrich is a picture book for young children. The story is about Ellie the elephant, who is starting school for the first time. Although it’s exciting for Ellie, she also feels the typical emotions of nervousness and sadness at being separated from her parents. She even gets angry at the actions of a classmate. Happily for Ellie, she has four magical friends accompanying her, who are four “emotion dragons--happy, sad, scared, or mad.” With the help of her magical companions, Ellie enjoys a wonderful day. Goodrich says he wrote the book to teach children courage and patience, as well as to provide positive communication skills. The book is illustrated by Traci Van Wagoner.

Although author Joseph Goodrich doesn’t specifically state an age group he wrote for, it’s apparent that Ellie and Her Emotional Dragons: Ellie's First Day of School is for those who are anticipating or experiencing entering kindergarten or first grade. Children of that age would love having this book read to them, or even reading it themselves when they’re able to. The illustrations by Traci Van Wagoner are charming and fit the book’s text perfectly. My children would have enjoyed this book when they were young, and I recommend it to any parents of soon-to-be-school-age kids. I especially enjoyed how Ellie learned to handle the class bully, which many children will, sadly, have to do. The idea of the “happy, sad, scared, or mad” emotion dragons is unique and children will like the idea of having imaginary friends to help them through their new experiences.

Daniel D Staats

Do you have a child who is ready to start school? If so, Ellie and Her Emotional Dragons by Joseph Goodrich is for you to read to and share with your child. By the way, the dragons are not of the scary fire-breathing type but are cute and friendly. As a counselor who has worked with children for over 30 years, I can highly recommend this book to help children prepare for school and some of the issues they will face, especially on their first day. The illustrations are wonderful and colorful so children should find them warm and inviting. Use this book as a springboard to start a conversation with your child about their fear, sadness, anger, and happiness. These are major issues for children. This book is short but a great way to get your child to open up about their concerns.

The issues addressed are covered with succinct comments. This is good because small children have short attention spans. The magic dragons give Ellie advice to help her deal with her issues. Author Joseph Goodrich does a great job of speaking on the level of children. Traci van Wagoner does a fantastic job using colors that are calming. She makes the characters come alive and her drawings will pique the interest of your child. Ellie and her dragons can also be used to help your child learn how to read and soon they will be reading this book and others on their own. I highly recommend Ellie and Her Emotional Dragons for any parent with young children that are about to start school.