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Customer reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
26
4.4 out of 5 stars


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on 24 October 2000
The princess-eating exploits of the meat-eating dragons of the forest of Nogard finally become too much for the king who initiates a dragon hunt. Unfortunately, the dragon the king's men capture is actually a vegetarian. Scorned by other dragons, Herb is, nevertheless, about to be made their scapegoat when the intervention of a little girl suggests an alternative solution.
This book has all the elements which my 4 year old son declares necessary for a good story - knights, dragons and plenty of excitement. But this book is different - there is no battle or victory; the outcome is, instead, tolerance and compromise. The book is a good starting point for a discussion on how it is possible for two points of view to co-exist and on the consequences of discrimination. It also got my son very excited about growing, and eating, vegetables!
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on 2 June 2017
Bought this for my vegetarian 5 year old. Did NOT expect it to be about a court very nearly executing the dragon by decapitation, complete with illustrations of the dragon restrained and ready for the chop. Good grief!!
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on 14 August 2017
Being vegetarian this book is a delight to read to my son and he loves it.
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on 14 March 2017
Lovely pictures storyline let it down a bit. I think I'm looking for a book that says we don't eat meat, because its not nice to eat animals, and I this book didn't really say that.
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on 18 August 2015
Good little book.
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VINE VOICEon 28 May 2012
Herb, The Vegetarian Dragon is a children's story featuring a vegetables-loving dragon caught between the aggressive meat-eating dragons and their enemies the knights. It is a colourful book with plenty of bold, vivid pictures. It is well written with a good flow. The story seems aimed at perhaps the 4-7 age range as it has quite a lot of words so will be too much for the earliest readers. For those having the story read to them, this probably checks in at a slightly earlier age range. The drawings are ok, bold colours and just enough activity in the background.

However, the morality of the tale perpetuates traditional negative stereotypes about vegetarians. Herb is not the strong, positive role model a small child can benefit from. Instead, he features most of the negative features the non-vegetarian world expects from vegetarians. The story revolves around Herb being an outsider and unable to fit in with his friends because he is different. That difference is itself harmful. The vegetarian dragon should be part of the society he is in and seeking to promote change or just getting on with others if he does not want to change the minds of others. Instead, Herb is an outcast, he is different and a bit weird. A typical negative vegetarian stereotype.

The stereotyping does not end there. The meat eaters are all larger than Herb. They are physically able and strong. Herb is frail. He is skinny while the meat eaters are powerful. He has to live in their shadow because he is not really able to stand up for himself. When trouble comes Herb's way, he passively becomes the only dragon to suffer. Every other dragon is wily enough to cope while Herb is captured. Part of the reason he is captured is because he is oblivious to what is going on around him. He has no idea there is battle between the dragons and the knights. As he does not talk to others in his society he is not aware of what is going on.

Herb does not talk to others in his society because he is better than them. He is morally superior in a way that non-vegetarians hate. That in itself is not a bad thing as morality is not relative but not understanding the motivation of his fellow dragons or of the knights is just reinforcing the idea that vegetarians are different and cannot relate to ordinary folk.

Herb is captured by the knights and very nearly becomes a martyr. Apparently, vegetarians suffer for their beliefs. This martyrdom spirit, the idea that there is a hardship to being a vegetarian is not the positive message that should be reinforced to a child. Yes, it is more difficult to be vegetarian than not, especially in continental Europe or the Americas but again it is a negative stereotype that this children's book reinforces instead of embracing vegetarianism as a positive choice.

Herb is offered meat by the dragons, he turns it down. Meat eaters offer the vegetarian a devilish source of temptation but the moral fortitude of the vegetarian is too great and he is not tempted. In a children's book? Seriously?

Herb eventually survives and brings peace and harmony to everyone because of his moral fibre. He is indeed the hero and this suggests the story is positive. It is not. It is a story filled with most of the vegetarian stereotypes - the frail and weird vegetarian with a superiority complex who cannot relate to the people around him. This is not the message of vegetarianism that this reviewer wants to reinforce to children.
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on 20 January 2003
The knights of Castle Dark set out to destroy the evil dragons of Nogard, who have been scoffing their princesses, but instead they capture Herb the Vegetarian Dragon and plan his execution... Fortunately, it has a happy-ever-after ending, with dragons and people, meat-eaters and vegetarians, all living together in peace and harmony.
Though there are serious messages underlying it, they are not laboured and the story does not suffer from excessive morality - it is very well told, with strong characters (notably Meathook, the leader of the dragons), some great lines (the dragons' song when they are plotting revenge on the knights is a favourite) and sumptuous illustrations. And you can't argue with the philosophy that Herb represents - not only tolerance of those who are different to you but also sticking by your principles in the face of adversity (Meathook offers to free Herb from prison if he will eat some wild boar meat, but Herb declines and trusts to fate instead).
My 4-yr-old got this as a gift and it has rapidly become one of his favourite stories, which he never tires of hearing over and over. And to be honest, I don't tire of reading it to him. It is simply a wonderful story for young children, destined to become a classic children's book.
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on 15 June 2007
I ordered this for a dragon obsessed, militant vegetarian (aged 7!), after finding it in the age 5 - 8 range. On its arrival, I found it to be a wonderful book - very colourful and with a great message! However, I think my friend's 7 year old would feel quite patronised if I gave this to her for her birthday, as it's more suited to a younger child, so I've decided to keep it for younger visitors to the house!
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on 13 September 2010
We love this. A really positive message about how we can all get along no matter what we eat. Vegetarians/Meat Eaters/Princess Eaters. Different dragons have different tastes but can all learn to live together. Just enough 'peril' in it to entertain a young child with great illustrations and a really positive outcome. A great gentle introduction to the concept of being vegetarian.
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on 27 April 2010
Good idea to create a vegetarian dragon that teaches children that even when it seems impossible, you can change your mind/yourself and yet still remain on your positions/ideas, still remain "you".

The change seen as something positive, very good. Because growing up means: go ahead and change...
:-)
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