Written by Jules Bass and illustrated by Debbie Harter
Barefoot Books 1999
Themes and Topics: Vegetarianism, tolerance, learning “but we’ve always done it this way” may not be the best answer.
Opening and brief synopsis: « Every dragon in the forest of Nogard was a meateater.Meathook was their leader. » A moral tale of knights, a brave young girl and dragons. The only vegetarian dragon in a land full of carnivores, Herb peacefully tends his garden while the other dragons feast on the castle’s inhabitants. Though at one point innocent Herb seems threatened with a beheading, there is a happy ending, as “dragons and people, meat-eaters and vegetarians, live together in peace and harmony.”
Why I Like This Book: While an omnivore myself, I think it’s great to expose kids to other options and maybe the choices of some of their friends. Choosing an archetypal carnivore as the protagonist (and which kids doesn’t adore a dragon?) is very effective in this story, and Herb the gentle, peacemaking, garden-tending vegetarian dragon will be attractive for kids. It is a fun book about accepting differences in others, while straying true to one’s own convictions.
Links to resources: There are dozens of resources, activities and lesson plans on nutrition, including vegetarianism, at this site. The book’s case for vegetarianism and understanding of differences can be enhanced when by also using the author’s Cooking With Herb: A Cookbook for Kids.
For more books with resources please visit Just Right Books! on Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog.