Moon Dragons

Published by Andersen Press . Authored by Dyan Sheldon. Illustrated by Gary Blythe.

Recommended for: Year 2.

Suggested length of study: 3 - 5 weeks.

Download the full scheme of work

Why the book was selected

The Moon Dragons has a straightforward narrative following whether Alina will tell the greedy king about the whereabouts of the moon dragons. However, the themes of truth and value make it a book with potential for rich and deep discussion. The illustrations portray characters in detail which make it accessible for all readers to develop their inference making skills.

Links to National Curriculum in England

This sequence focuses on reading comprehension, and does not explicitly teach phonics, although children may well be using phonological knowledge, decoding skills and recognising common exception words during the reading sessions. Children will be encouraged to read with fluency, especially as the text becomes familiar through rereading. At KS1, Take One Book will complement the approach you use for teaching phonics, ensuring your pupils are developing greater depth and understanding of the books they are reading


Pupils will be taught to: 

  •  develop pleasure in reading, motivation to read, vocabulary and understanding
  •  listen to, discuss and express views about a wide range of contemporary and classic poetry, stories and non-fiction at a level beyond that at which they can read independently 
  • discuss the sequence of events in books and how items of information are related  
  • become increasingly familiar with and retelling a wider range of stories, fairy stories and traditional tales  
  • be introduced to non-fiction books that are structured in different ways 
  • recognise simple recurring literary language in stories and poetry 
  • discuss and clarify the meanings of words, linking new meanings to known vocabulary  
  • discuss their favourite words and phrases
  • read with appropriate intonation and fluency to make the meaning clear 
  • understand both the books that they can already read accurately and fluently and those that they listen to 
  • draw on what they already know or on background information and vocabulary provided by the teacher  
  • check that the text makes sense to them as they read, with the teacher correcting inaccurate reading  
  • make inferences on the basis of what is being said and done
  •  answer and ask questions  
  • predict what might happen on the basis of what has been read so far
  • participate in discussion about books, poems and other works that are read to them and those that they can read for themselves
  • take turns and listen to what others say  
  • explain and discuss their understanding

Curriculum connections

  • Art
    • techniques
  • PSHE
    • values

About the author

Dyan Sheldon was born in Brooklyn, America. When she was six her family moved to Long Island to give their children more opportunities for outdoor fun and adventures. Unfortunately Dyan struggled to learn to swim and preferred going to the beach when it was empty. After leaving home Dyan moved around America a lot before ending up in London. She compares being a writer to being a spy because you’re always watching and listening and taking notes. As well as picturebooks she also writes for teenagers.

About the illustrator

Gary Blythe is an illustrator and artist. The Moon Dragons is his third collaboration with Dyan Sheldon. The Whales’ Song won the prestigious Kate Greenaway Medal in 1990.

A note about lessons

Our lessons are organised as meaningful chunks of learning. Most of them will fit a standard 45 minute to 60 minute session. However, some of them are shorter and others will run for a series of linked sessions. It is anticipated that you will not teach all the lessons. Select those that suit the needs of your class and add them to your personalised plans.

Text potential


  • Honesty and deception

Lessons for this book

Before Reading


Truth and Lies

Exploring the theme of honesty and deception.

Rare Dragon Spotted

Exploring key vocabulary from the story.

Dragon Qualities

Making predictions based on the naming of characters and their associated qualities.

During Reading

First Encounters

I Want a Moon Dragon!

A first read aloud of the beginning of the story.

Pages 1-10

Alina: First Impressions

Exploring first impressions of Alina using inference.

Pages 1-14

Think Aloud

Using a think aloud to support comprehension monitoring.

Pages 1-14

Echo Reading

Reading the ending of the story using echo reading to support fluency.

Pages 15-32

Let’s Think About it

Using Book Talk to reveal personal responses to the story.

Required reading: Whole book

Digging Deeper

In the manner of…

Exploring the character of the king focusing on the speech verbs used by the author.

Pages 1-10

Exploring the King’s Character

Using Readers Theatre to explore character.

Pages 5-7

Role on the Wall: The King

Using role on the wall to develop an understanding of the king’s character and motivation.

Pages 1-14

Exploring character: Alina

Exploring character by working in role.

Required reading: 13

Overheard Conversations

Using illustrations to infer what characters might be saying at different points.

Required reading: 13, 14, 21, 22

Exploring Mood: Sighting the Dragons

Using sound to explore mood and atmosphere.

Required reading: Whole book

Visual Language: Colour

Exploring the use of colour in the illustrations.

Required reading: 9-10, 19, 20

After Reading

Review and Reflect

Did You Find the Dragons?

Using Conscience Alley, to explore Alina’s decision to tell a lie.

Pages 21-22

Exploring Themes: Truth

Using hotseating to explore a central theme of the story.

Required reading: Whole book

What’s the Big Idea?

Exploring the themes of The Moon Dragons using statements to initiate discussion.

Required reading: Whole book

Writing Opportunities

Writing in Role: diary or letter writing

Writing a diary or letter in role as Alina.

Required reading: Whole book

A Letter to the King

Writing a letter to persuade the king not to capture the moon dragons.

Required reading: Whole book

Alternative Endings

Writing an alternative ending for the story

Required reading: Whole book

Wider Learning Opportunities

Making a Moon Dragon

Using a range of materials to create a moon dragon.


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