We all know the song ‘Puff the Magic Dragon” (even if you don’t know the words you could probably hum it) but there’s more to Puff than just a song. For authors Peter Yarrow and Lenny Lipton, he is a wise and noble character that represents a steadfast friend for children, continuing to live on because of the place he has in the hearts of the young and old.
What Is ‘Puff the Magic Dragon’ About?
In a gentle, peaceful land called Honalee, a dragon named Puff resides near the sea. A little boy named Jackie Paper is his best friend, and each and every day the two of them would go on great adventures. Kings would bow to them, pirates would wave their flags, and Jackie would perch on Puff’s gigantic tail as they sailed the sea.
But times change, and one day Jackie doesn’t come back to Honalee. He’s all grown up now. Puff, devastated by the loss of his best friend, slinks into his cave and grieves. Nothing can cheer the dragon up and everyone fears the worst-until one day Puff gets a surprise that heals him.
I really enjoyed the story, and how it’s written, save one thing. Every few pages there’s a page that repeats the phrase “Puff the magic dragon, lived by the sea, and frolicked in the autumn mist, in a land called Honalee.” For me it kind of interrupted the flow of everything, but it did provide a constant throughout the book and I suppose was a way to attach it to the song.
The illustrations took a little bit for me to warm up to, but with each turn of the page I grew more and more fond of them, in particular, how Puff was drawn. He’s depicted in a very ‘artsy’ sort of way, with a large round body and skinny little legs, but his face is kind and wise and he looks like the perfect best friend.
Eric Puybaret did the paintings for the book and while they didn’t really wow me, I still thought they were lovely.
I have incredibly vivid memories of being in elementary school and all the second graders gathering in the gymnasium to learn how to sing “Puff the Magic Dragon.” Back then, I enjoyed the song and what it was about. I thought Puff was a little bit of a silly name, but I loved dragons so really…whatever. Then as I got older, much like the main character in the book, I lost touch with the part of my past that Puff was in.
The song became a running joke in middle school and high school between just about every student, and everyone scoffed at it, including myself. Now, reading this book, I have once again come to appreciate the story. Puff truly is a steadfast creature for many children growing up, even if they don’t really know it. By passing on the story and the song we are tying generations together and creating all kinds of memories. Chuckle at the story all you like, but the fact remains that it is something that will stick with you forever, and for a reason.