Kobolds and gnolls and owlbears! Oh my! Dragon in the Doghouse, written by Brandon Draga and illustrated by Deanna Laver, is a beautiful and funny introduction for kids to everything we love about fantasy RPGs.
As the parent of a two-year-old, I’m always worried about when the right time to introduce my son to my geeky pursuits is so that I don’t scare him away from them. RPGs, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition specifically, played such a huge part of my geekiness growing up that it is something I put on the list of future things to introduce to him as soon as I knew we were having a kid.
I certainly didn’t expect to start introducing him to D&D at age two, but then I found Dragon in the Doghouse. This book is a great introduction for kids into the world of fantasy and has plenty of nods to parents so we can also enjoy the book. My favorite page is the Dark Elves in the den playing games and cheating (as Dark Elves do), and the game they are playing is a clear nod to Settlers of Catan.
The book introduces dragons, goblins, kobolds, dark elves, owlbears, liches, gnolls, and trolls, all of whom are being more annoying than menacing, through the eyes of a small boy. It’s a great way to get your kid interested in these monsters in a very non-threatening way. And just in case they are still a little scary for your little one, the story continues on with four heroes–a fighter, a rogue, a wizard, and a cleric–taking care of all the monsters and clearing out the boy’s home. All four heroes, two male and two female, do equal parts and no monsters are seriously injured in the story.
Something I always find important in books, especially when I’m reading them to my son at bed time, is a way to say good night to the book. Dragon in the Doghouse delivered that perfectly with this final scene of the boy, in bed, surrounded by his toys that were the obvious catalyst for his imagination throughout the story, including his blocks–which just happen to spell “ADND.”
If you are a fan of fantasy RPGs and have been looking for a subtle and fun way to introduce them to your young child, do yourself a favor and grab a copy of Dragon in the Doghouse right now!
Note: I was given a review copy of this book.