Gracie (age 9): Smell my lips, Dad. I just put lip gloss on. Smell my lips.
Dad: I don't want to smell your lips.
Isaac (age 11): No one wants to smell your lips.
Gracie: Lily, you smell my lips.
Dad: Let's not smell lips... let's review books. Isaac, you picked today's book. Why don't you tell everyone what we're reading.
Isaac: "Ignis" by Gina Wilson, illustrated by P.J. Lynch.
Lily (age 6): Ignis is a dragon who does not breathe fire.
Dad: Is he okay with that?
Lily: No. He says he's not a real dragon because dragons have to breathe fire. Wah, wah, wah.
Gracie: He's the fastest, he's the strongest, he can fly the highest.
Isaac: But he can't seem to breathe fire.
Lily: Then he goes off to find fire. He meets a hippo. They swim. Also he meets a parrot. They fly. And he meets a little girl. Cara. And the girl gives him tea parties! Hee hee!
Dad: Hey -- did you know there's a writing principle called "The Rule of Three." Like: hippo, parrot, girl... Authors will often do three variations on things in their stories. So if you write a story about pigs that meet a wolf... you'll have three of them - one for straw, one for sticks, and one for bricks. Two pigs wouldn't seem like enough. Four or five pigs would start getting too long and boring. Three is just long enough to set a pattern in place. Three is the magic number.
Isaac: Yeah. I never knew about that, but it makes sense.
Dad: Like in "The Hiccupotamus," how many other characters did the hippo meet?
Dad: Elephant, centipede, rhinoceros. That's the Rule of Three. So when you guys write stories, you can keep that in mind. A character might try three different solutions to a problem or meet three different people. What are some other examples of the Rule of Three? How about Goldilocks?
Isaac: Three bears.
Dad: And there's another Rule of Three hiding in that story too: Porridge, Chair, Bed. What else... 3 Billy Goats Gruff. And in Jack and the Beanstalk, Jack takes the gold, the goose, and the harp. Rule of Three, baby.
Gracie: Do videos count?
Gracie: Then I have one. "Dora the Explorer."
Dad: Oh yeah... when they check the map, they always have three places to remember... every time.
Gracie: Always three. ALWAYS. No matter what.
Isaac: Nu-uh! I saw one with four. Uh... Not that I watch it.
Dad: Alright, we've spent plenty of time on the Rule of Three.
Isaac: Yeah, it kind of got boring.
Gracie: We should have given three examples.
Dad: Where did we leave off? Ignis meets a little girl named Cara...
Gracie: She's lucky.
Isaac: It would be scary to meet a dragon, but it would be cool.
Gracie: But they have tea parties, of all things. The girl has a tea party with a dragon! I wouldn't have tea parties and ice cream. I would go out flying or something.
Dad: I guess Ignis wants to do human-y things.
Isaac: If you think about it, it would be terrifying to meet a dragon.
Gracie: He would light my campfire.
Isaac: I would?
Gracie: No! My dragon would.
Lily: My dragon would be a "she."
Dad: If a dragon just came up to you out of nowhere, you wouldn't get to pick what it was.
Lily: Well, I would want my dragon to be a "she." My dragon would do everything with me.
Dad: If a dragon ever bursts through our door... go get your tea set.
Isaac: I would grab a knife and throw it at it.
Dad: Good thing Isaac wasn't in this book. Ignis would have met a sad end.
Isaac: Actually, I'd probably just be stunned and then run away.
Gracie: I would put a muzzle on it, and then I would give it a hug.
Isaac: What about its tail?
Gracie: I'd tie its tail to its neck, put gloves on it, and then give it a hug.
Dad: So you would tie him and glove him and muzzle him... I bet he's going to love getting a hug from you.
Isaac: I would run up to my room, get my homemade bullwhip, and run away as fast as I can. And if it starts chasing me, I'd start whipping it.
Dad: Man, you guys are all so "kind" to dragons. This book would have been very different if Cara did all that stuff to Ignis.
Gracie: She doesn't even have a whip.
Isaac: I would only do it in self defense.
Gracie: I changed my mind. I would just give it a hug. I'm not scared about the fire. Unless he burns my head off. Then I would freak out.
Dad: Alright, we got really sidetracked... back to Ignis...
Lily: Ignis felt fire inside him. Then he goes to a volcano.
Isaac: It had blown up 100 years ago, but the last spark comes out, and he accidentally swallows it when he is crying. Then he starts breathing fire. Tons and tons and tons of fire.
Lily: He spit fire and it flew everywhere. It was a happy, happy ever after.
Dad: How did he find his fire?
Isaac: By crying.
Dad: So the moral of the story is... Crying fixes everything.
Isaac: Ha ha! Yeah!
Dad: Do you think there is a moral?
Isaac: Don't complain. Things take time.
Dad: I like the fact that Ignis didn't solve the problem all on his own, but neither did someone else fix it for him. It was a combination of the two. He needed what was inside him plus some outside help.
Gracie: Did a girl write this book?
Dad: Yep. Gina Wilson wrote it.
Gracie: I thought Gina must be a girl's name. Gina is also my pet webkins giraffe and my next door neighbor.
Dad: Ah -- Rule of Three! The three Ginas: neighbor girl, pet giraffe, and author. Maybe you should write a story about their adventures.
Lily: Everything is three!
Dad: What did you think of the illustrations?
Lily: I like the pictures because they are detailed. They look like realistic pop-out dragons.
Isaac: The illustrator makes such cool dragons.
Dad: He sure does. P.J. Lynch is my favorite living illustrator. And out of all his books, I like "Ignis" best.
Lily: It looks like 3D popping out.
Dad: How do you think he makes it dimensional?
Isaac: The backgrounds are kind of blurry, but then the dragon is super detailed, so it pops off.
Dad: It's also the way he uses light and shadows. Instead of filling the shapes in flat, he makes things look rounded with light and shadow.
Lily: That is so amazing.
Dad: Do you think he had to observe real dragons to draw them so well?
Gracie: That would be awesome.
Lily: He made them up. Because dragons aren't real.
Gracie: Don't say that or one will burn your head off in the night.
Lily: Daddy, are dragons real?
Dad: Now, there are two "flying" images in this book. One looks like a fast crazy flight and one looks calm and peaceful. How did he do that?
Lily: Cool colors and hot colors.
Gracie: On the one where everything is peaceful and quiet there are cool colors. Blue and purple.
Dad: And what makes this one with the parrot exciting?
Gracie: Bright, hot colors. Those colors are freakin' bright.
Lily: They make me feel wild and crazy.
Gracie: I really like the illustrator.
Isaac: He does awesome pictures.
Dad: I love P.J. Lynch.
Dad: P.J. Lynch. He did the pictures.
Gracie: Peanutbutter and Jelly?
Dad: Great... P.J.? Peanutbutter and Jelly Lynch?
Gracie: Peanutbutter and Jelly LUNCH! P.J. Lunch!
Dad: I apologize, Mr...
Gracie: Mr. Peanutbutter and Jelly!
Dad: I sincerely apologize, Mr. honorable best living artist in the world, for my goofy little daughter...
Gracie: Hah ha ha ha...
Dad: One day some little weirdie kid is going to call you "Grapes." Amity Grapes instead of Amity Grace.
Author: Gina Wilson
Illustrator: P.J. Lynch
Watch P.J. Lynch paint a dragon from one of his other books
Published, 2001: Candlewick Press
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