So many children’s stories are about problems that surface as part of everyday life; many deal with moral issues like truth-telling or greed. Children, through discussion with adults, can learn much about their responsibilities and what is expected of them through these stories.
It’s refreshing to read an old-fashioned, heroic fairy tale reminiscent of Grimm or Andersen. Donner the Western Dragon is such a story. Perhaps the title suggests something about cowboys, since Donner is a western dragon, but western dragons are fierce, fire-breathing beasts. Conversely, eastern dragons are peaceful and serene. Poor Donner is a frustration to his family because he seems more eastern than western.
Because he is different, Donner faces a number of obstacles. His father and brother think he is a disappointment and the other dragon kids make fun of him. Donner doesn’t play dragon games and breathe fire on everyone and everything; he’d prefer to enjoy quiet meadows and butterfly-gazing. While most dragons his age use up their fire on a daily basis, Donner barely breathes a spark. His best friend is a sweet unicorn of similar temperament. They live in the mountains and enjoy their natural setting.
This is a story about a misfit, but a well-adjusted misfit. Donner doesn’t take it to heart when other dragons laugh at him; he thinks they waste their time and fire playing games. He enjoys things that others ignore, and he’s comfortable with that.
One day all of the young unicorns and dragons — except Donner — are playing together and decide to enter an enormous cave. They play hide-and-seek, and the dragons carve pictures in the walls with their fiery breath. They don’t notice how fast the time flies by, and as it gets late the dragons use up their fire. Just as they're ready to go home to their lairs, tragedy strikes.
An avalanche traps all the young unicorns and dragons inside the cave, and another avalanche is threatening. The unicorns beseech the dragons to burn their way out, but they can’t; they have no fire. When the adults learn of their fate they go to the caves, but the dragons can’t do much because they are old and used up their fire in their youth.
It’s up to one little misfit to save the day. Donner attempts a rescue, ever-mindful that another avalanche is imminent so he must proceed with caution. Will Donner be able to save the dragons and unicorns? Will he himself get hurt? Do you really want to know? Read the book!
Donner the Western Dragon is an exciting story for children who will surely identify with the dragon who doesn’t quite fit in. It’s never too early to learn that it’s okay to be different, and that even if we are, we can still be accepted and appreciated.
Bottom Line: Would I buy Donner the Western Dragon? Yes, it’s a wonderful fantasy for kids.