Herb the Vegetarian Dragon

by Jules Bass illustrated by Debbie Harper (Barefoot Books 1999)

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peace with ourselves-peace with each other-peace with the environment

very highly recommended and still available in soft cover - maybe a copy in your local library


This delightful story for all ages to enjoy and share together contains all our defined peace-building elements:

  • happy endings

  • everyone winning

  • nonviolent resolution

  • imaginative and creative

  • challenges existing stereotyping

  • faith and hope

  • peace with the environment

  • finding personal peace

  •     ..an element that supports the idea that peace is possible

.....but its ending especially is interesting. Herb is a dragon, but unlike the other dragons in the forest of Nogard, and the dragons with which we are all familiar, the scary, fire breathing and extremely dangerous kinds, he is a pacifist, and grows vegetables. The other dragons in the story have very little time for our Gandhi like hero. They intend to eat all the knights of Castle Dark and the knights intend to capture and behead all the dragons, including Herb.

A small girl, who lives in Castle Dark, does know the truth about Herb though and she comes to his rescue.

The happy ending in this story does involve everyone winning.

Herb is freed and allowed to continue growing his vegetables.

Meathook and the other dragons agreed they would change their ways and not eat humans anymore, only the wild boar in the forest. They would no longer continue to burn, pillage and devour knights and princesses and feast on the people of Castle Dark.

Some of the dragons even wanted to learn how to grow vegetables like Herb.

The knights no longer had to hunt dragons and the villagers were also safe.

Herb brought peace to the entire forest of Nogard and dragons, people, meat-eaters and vegetarians respected each other's rights and continued to live together in peace and harmony. 

In this story...there is no detailed violence, killing or death.......final solutions are non-violent.

Herb, as Gandhi would have done, peacefully responds when he is captured.

Each character's rights and needs are respected.

A child's faith and courage save the day.

Characters break traditional stereotypes.

People can change for the better.

There is no mention of revenge.

Critical questions to explore with children

  • How did Herb respond when he was captured by the knights?
  • Did Herb behave like all the other dragons? What things did he do differently?
  • Why were the people of Castle Dark so fearful of the dragons?
  • Did Herb deserve to be treated badly by the knights after he was captured?
  • Who was brave enough to speak the truth?
  • What did all the dragons have to change?
  • How did Herb bring peace to the Forest of Nogard?
  • Does the story have a happy win-win ending?

Creative questions to explore with children

  • Do you think Herb was wise being a vegetarian?
  • Should Meathook have tried to rescue Herb?
  • Was the king a wise person?
  • Do you think Herb was brave?
  • Do you think it would be easy for dragons to become herbivores?
  • Was Meathook a good leader?
  • Do you think the little girl became friends with Herb?
  • How else could the story have ended with win-win?

Read Kelsey's story of a dragon named Pudge who could have easily been a relative of Herb's. Kelsey created his story after he was read Herb the Vegetarian Dragon. Kelsey definitely included similar peace building elements in his story.

 Pudge the Dragon

  Robyn Ewing suggests

Teaching and Learning for Peace Foundation February 2005

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