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Reviewed by Fiona Ingram for Readers' Favorite
In Ellie and Her Emotional Dragons by Joseph Goodrich, Ellie is a young elephant who has just moved into an old house with her mom and dad. It should be exciting, right? But for Ellie, the move is not at all enjoyable. The house is scary, and there are lots of weird creaking sounds. How can Ellie cope? Ellie is a lucky little elephant who is blessed with four adorable dragon friends – Naz, Nali, Tully, and Hani – who come out of Ellie's closet when Ellie feels happy, sad, scared, or mad. The four trusty friends help Ellie understand her emotions, give helpful and practical suggestions as to how to combat negative emotions, such as confronting her fears, and put her back on the right track. In the course of one day Ellie experiences all the emotions and gets help from her little dragon friends.
What an absolutely enchanting story! I fell in love with the artwork from the first page. The illustrations by Traci Van Wagoner are just fantastic, done in a style I have never seen before. The ink spatter style gives sweeping movements and is filled with energy, and I felt myself being carried along by the events. Young readers will be swept up into this tale by becoming visually engaged. There is so much to discover in each brightly colored panel, including subtle references to the colors of the little dragons.
Ellie is a character all young readers can relate to. Author Joseph Goodrich has set out to teach kids emotional intelligence, helping them to understand their emotions, how to deal with them in a positive way, and to understand themselves. I think this book will also be useful for parents who may have forgotten how scary it was to move, how sad they felt when a beloved parent had to go to work, and when a play date went awry. I also liked how the author includes politeness, saying sorry, and appreciation of others in Ellie thanking her adorable little friends for all their help. Parents and teachers will find many points to use for discussion. This is a delightful, entertaining story that will charm young readers while helping them to develop emotionally and to understand not only themselves, but others as well as they learn social skills. A real treat for all!