Puff, the Magic Dragon by Lenny Lipton and Peter Yarrow

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Puff, the Magic Dragon is one my favorite sentimental stories from when I was a child. “Puff, the Magic Dragon” was originally a song written by Lenny Lipton and Peter Yarrow, and performed by Peter Yarrow’s group: Peter, Paul and Mary in the 1960s. There have been multiple adaptations of this song, one of which is in the form of a children’s book called Puff, the Magic DragonThis book is about children growing older, and it reminds both young and older readers of the importance of love and friendship.  Some of the books come with a CD of the song to play along as you read. While this book shares a great message of remembering childhood friends and interests, it is also a sad song. In the story, Puff is a dragon and his friend Jackie is a young boy. The words of the story suggest that while Puff lives forever, Jackie grows old and actually dies. The illustrated children’s book shows a young girl at the end of the story, which suggests that Puff finds a new friend and ends the story happily. While this image is not supplemented by a verbal explanation, children often look to illustrations for meaning, thus this ending may be commonly understood.

When my sister was five years old, Peter Yarrow performed at our elementary school. He performed every year and closed each show with his song “Puff, the Magic Dragon.” At the end of the concert my sister’s first year at school, she heard the end of the song and sobbed. She was devastated that Puff’s best friend had grown old, forgotten about him, and died. Unfortunately for my sister, she did not see the version of the song as an illustrated children’s book until years later that showed the possibility of Puff finding a new friend. I think this version is much more child-friendly and still shows the values and importance of friendship and loyalty, which is great for any young child to learn.

Posted by Sarah D’Amico

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