Starting school is a big milestone. Knowing what to expect can help ease that transition. Caryl Hart’s new book, When a Dragon Goes to School, follows a dragon as it explores the routines and manners that children, will experience in preschool. Magination Press asked the author about creating this delightful new picture book, which is a companion to When a Dragon Comes Stay. Magination Press: What inspired you to write When a Dragon Goes to School? Caryl Hart: The first book in the series, When a Dragon Comes to Stay, was so popular that my publisher, Nosy Crow, asked if I’d like to write a second book where the little dragon starts school. Of course I said yes straight away! I remember only too well how difficult it was to settle my own children into school when they were small - we had lots of tears and leg-clinging, which was hugely upsetting at the time. Little did I know that, while I felt terrible for the rest of the day, my girls skipped off to have fun as soon as I was out of sight! Starting school is such a huge milestone for young children and creating fun, reassuring books is a great way to help prepare them. Our story includes common routines like hanging your coat and bag on a peg, entering the classroom, sitting in your special place, listening to the teacher and being kind to your new friends - all things that most children will experience during their first days at school. Children who are already familiar with the school environment can sometimes struggle to talk about their experiences and might not know how to tell their grownups when things don’t go quite right. Reading books like When a Dragon Goes to School can help open up this dialogue and give children the tools they need to process difficult, exciting, or new experiences, ultimately helping them feel happy and safe. MP: Why are manners in school so important? CH: Young children are often used to being the sole focus of attention at home, so learning to get along with others can be quite a challenge. Understanding school routines and learning to consider other people’s feelings help the school day run smoothly, which ultimately makes the experience a pleasant and rewarding one for everyone! Most children do actually want to behave in a way that will please the adults in their lives, and modeling appropriate behavior in picture books can help them work out what is expected of them. Demonstrating funny scenarios of what would never do is a funny and endearing way to discuss the behaviors they are aiming for. MP: Can you recall a teacher that you had in school who helped you learn good etiquette? CH: I can’t remember anyone at school specifically teaching me about manners - my parents were pretty good at that! I think learning good manners is just part and parcel of the fabric of school life. We raise ourRead More
About Caryl HartCaryl Hart is a full-time children’s writer, who also runs creative workshops with schools. Her Princess series, illustrated by Sarah Warburton, has sold hundreds of thousands of copies around the world. She lives in Sheffield, United Kingdom. Visit her online, and on Twitter and Instagram.
Remembering your manners when visiting with friends can be a challenge. Preschoolers and dragons will relate to Caryl Hart's book, When a Dragon Comes to Stay, as it explores different situations a small child, or dragon, might experience during a visit to a friend's house. Ms. Hart talked with Magination Press about creating When a Dragon Comes to Stay in this interview. Magination Press: What inspired you to write When a Dragon Comes to Stay? Caryl Hart: The initial idea for the book came from my editor at Nosy Crow. She asked me if I’d like to write a book about a preschool-aged dragon using the concept: “Why no, dragons don’t do that!” Of course I said yes straight away! MP: Why did you decide to write a book about manners? CH: We wanted to find a fun way to model good behavior for preschool children - to create a book that was engaging for children but also carried some universal messages to support parents. I do feel this has been especially important over the past year as children have been socializing less and have had fewer opportunities to work out how to get along with others. MP: Why did you choose a dragon to be the visitor? CH: Dragons are often cast as baddies in children’s literature so the expectation is that they will always be mean, scary, and unkind. Using a dragon as the main character gives us a unique opportunity to play with that role. The book first suggests how a dragon might behave - for example, will she snatch and keep the toys from other little girls and boys? But then quickly clarifies that in fact, a dragon will wait her turn and always share. So the book gives caregivers and children lots of opportunities to discuss how they or their friends might deal with certain situations and experiment with ideas on the best ways to behave. Children love to take the higher moral ground, so find the idea of a dragon behaving badly very funny! It was also lovely to be able to create a very young dragon character - I think you’ll agree that Ros Beardshaw’s illustrations are absolutely adorable! MP: Why did you choose to explore manners at home, as opposed to manners at a party or somewhere else? CH: This book is set at home because we’re focusing on preschool children, many of whom spend a lot of time playing at home with their friends. The second book in the series, When a Dragon Goes to School is set, as the title suggests, in a school environment. We have more books in production that draw on different settings, so watch this space! MP: What was it like to see your illustrator Rosalind Beardshaw’s interpretation of your words? Was it your idea or hers to depict multiracial siblings? CH: Ros’s illustrations are completely adorable and I know it took a lot of work to get the characters just right. Both Ros and I areRead More