Cover image for Down the dragon's tongue
Down the dragon's tongue
Mahy, Margaret.
Personal Author:
First American edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Orchard Books, 2000.
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 24 cm
When twins Harry and Miranda bring their buttoned-down father to the playground, he discovers that he does not want to stop sliding down the dragon's-tongue slide.
Reading Level:
AD 410 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 3.0 0.5 66525.

Reading Counts RC K-2 2.9 2 Quiz: 23698 Guided reading level: M.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books

On Order



On a lovely evening in the playground, the great big, slippery slide shines like the bright, long tongue of a friendly dragon. Harry and Miranda want their father to go down the slide with them just once -- that's all. But Mr. Prospero, an important businessman and a very tidy man, would rather not dirty his white shirt, shiny shoes, and hand-painted silk tie that looks like a fruit salad. "Please, Daddy, please", begs Harry. "We want to go swizz! We must go swoosh!" And so Whooosh! Swiiish! Wheee! Wooow! they go, but not just once....Luckily for Mr. Prospero, he'll never be the same again. Wow!

Author Notes

Margaret Mahy was born on March 21, 1936 in Whakatane, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand. She received a B.A. degree from the University of New Zealand. She worked as a nurse, an assistant librarian, and a children's librarian in England and New Zealand. Her first book, A Lion in the Meadow, was published in 1969. She became a full-time author in 1980. During her lifetime, she wrote more than 120 children's books including The Haunting, The Changeover, Memory, The Seven Chinese Brothers, The Man Whose Mother Was a Pirate and A Summery Saturday Morning. She won the Esther Glen Award five times, the Carnegie Medal of the British Library Association three times, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, Hans Christian Andersen Award, and in 1999, she won the New Zealand Post Children's Book Award in two categories, Picture Book and Supreme Award. She died after a brief illness on July 23, 2012 at the age of 76.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Ages 4^-8. Mr. Prospero is an important businessman with a propensity for neatness and order. One evening his twins, Harry and Miranda, beg him to take them to the playground. Since his wife is otherwise occupied, he reluctantly agrees, and everyone is pleasantly surprised when he becomes the biggest fan of the great big slippery slide, aka the Dragon's Tongue. MacCarthy's bright, acrylic paintings capture the fun of this enormous slide, which is built into a high hill and accessible only via a series of stairways. Mahy's graceful language gently tickles our physical senses as well as our sense of humor as the family goes swizz, swoosh, whizz, and woosh, and Daddy's fruit salad tie learns to fly. This is also a wonderful choice for summer story hours, and for toddlers' apprehensive parents who may have forgotten the joys of childhood. --Kay Weisman

Publisher's Weekly Review

Mahy and MacCarthy (previously paired for 17 Kings and 42 Elephants) team up for this story of a buttoned-down businessman who literally kicks off his shoes at his children's urging. Mr. Prospero informs twins Miranda and Harry that "fathers wearing white shirts, shiny shoes, and hand-painted silk ties that look like fruit salad" do not ride down huge slides at the park. But after some initial fears, Mr. Prospero discovers he can "Whooosh!" with the best of them, and the twins have a hard time getting him to go home. Mahy's language is offbeat, verbally dexterous and chock-full of repeated metaphors and accumulating jokes. The father's clothes mirror his gradual awakening in both art and text as he loses his buttons and nearly eats his fruit salad tie. MacCarthy's acrylic paintings focus on action and character, but at times seem out of sync with the text. Mahy frequently hints at magic (naming the father Prospero, invoking images of a city that lies "out beyond like a land in a dream" and glows "like a fairyland in the last rays of sunlight"), but MacCarthy largely ignores these metaphors, so that the somewhat flat ending lacks a dreamy punch. Nonetheless, this is still a charmer. Ages 4-7. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

PreS-Gr 2-Mr. Prospero, a neatly dressed businessman by day, reluctantly risks his penchant for order and escorts his twins to a playground one afternoon. In spite of the children's assurances that he will only have to watch, the hesitant father is cajoled into accompanying them down the "great big, slippery slide," which "shone like the bright, long tongue of a friendly dragon." Together, the quartet (the family dog slides, too) conquers gravity with a "Whooosh! Swiiish! Wheee!" and "Wooow!" MacCarthy's brightly colored illustrations have rhythm and energy that complement the lively tone of the text. The "great big, slippery slide" literally becomes the dragon's tongue, emerging from the gaping dragon mouth at the top of a hill. While this team's Boom, Baby, Boom, Boom (Viking, 1997) and 17 Kings and 42 Elephants (Puffin, 1993) are more original, there are a few trademark Mahy moments of whimsy here.-Robin L. Gibson, Perry County District Library, New Lexington, OH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.