Zog and the flying doctors by Julia Donaldson
Ill. by Axel Scheffler. Scholastic, 2016. ISBN 9781407164953
(Age: 4-6) Recommended. Princess Pearl, Gadabout the Great and Zog the helpful dragon fly across the kingdom assisting the sick. The flying doctors have special roles: 'Princess Pearl gives medicine, pills and vaccinations, while Gad the knight is an expert at field operations.' Zog the dragon is happy to ferry them to the ailing animals and creatures but unfortunately, he needs a little practice in landing. They assist a sunburnt mermaid, a unicorn with an extra horn and a lion suffering from the flu. Here Zog lights a warm fire to keep his cave warm and Pearl administers a special pill to stop his symptoms.
When Pearl and her friends visit her Uncle's castle, things change dramatically. Pearl is captured and locked up, allowed to sew pretty cushions and make floral arrangements, jobs suited to a princess. Zog and Gadabout try unsuccessfully to rescue her. When the king falls ill and none of the visiting doctors can make him better, it is time for Pearl to send her friends on a mission.
Julia Donaldson's rhyming text is easy to read, and children enjoy predicting the rhyming words - sneeze, cheese and unicorn, horn. When sharing this book with a young audience take time to stop at the scenes where Pearl is imprisoned. Ask them to think of the things that she will need to save her uncle. Astute readers will predict the importance of the Flying Doctor's previous stops.
Axel Scheffler's familiar illustrative style of working with ink, watercolours and coloured pencils brings the vibrant fantasy world to life. Hidden somewhere in the story is Donaldson and Scheffler's most famous character The Gruffalo.