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By Margaret Shannon, Houghton Mifflin


When Elvira is born she seems just like any other baby dragon, but her parents soon realize she doesn't like fighting and she hates eating princesses. The other little dragons tease her, but they soon discover Elvira has a mind of her own.

Guidelines for Philosophical Discussion

By Heather Slutz

The book Elvira by Margaret Shannon is a story of a young dragon who is born looking and acting just like all the other dragons. Yet, as she gets older, Elvira becomes different. While the other dragons are interested in fighting with each other and eating princesses, Elvira prefers to make daisy chains and design dresses. Because of her differences, Elvira is bullied by the other dragons and made fun of. She finally chooses to leave and go live with the princesses.

At first she is also ostracized by the princesses, but when they realized that she wants to be one of them instead of eating them, they adopt her as their favorite pet. They dress her in pretty dresses and paint her nails. One day Elvira's parents mistake her for a big princess who looks tasty to eat. When Elvira makes it clear that she is a dragon and not a princess they take her home so she won't be mistaken for a princess again. At first, when the other dragons hear that Elvire has come home, they visit to pick on her. But, instead, they are excited by her dresses, and she makes dresses for them also.

The book Elvira deal with philosophical issues such as aesthetics, which is the branch of philosphy that studies beauty and art. Elvira is interested in things she finds aesthetically pleasing such as beautiful dresses and daisy chains. The other dragons find things like fighting to be pleasing. This makes her different from the other dragons. Elvira also deals with philosophical issues such as ethics. Ethics is the branch of philosophy that deals with things such as morals. Elvira's morals tell her it is wrong to eat princesses. This is at odds with the ethical system of the other dragons who think it is quite all right to eat princesses. Elvira also deals with the philosophical issues of epistemology, which is the branch of philosophy that studies how we know things, and ontology, which is the philosophical branch that studies what existence and identity are. For example, how does Elvira know it is wrong to eat princesses? Also, what does it mean for Elvira to have an identity that is different from all the other dragons?

Questions for Philosophical Discussion


  1. Have you ever identified with people who were different from you?
  2. Have you ever felt different from your friends or parents?
  3. Did you enjoy being different or did you find it hard?
  4. If you are different, have you been picked on for being different?
  5. Do you think it's ok to pick on somebody who is different? Why or why not?
  6. Elvira leaves her family because she is different. Have you ever wanted to run away because you were different?
  7. Do you think running away to a place where you feel the same is the solution to feeling different?


  1. Elvira thinks that daisy chains and dresses are beautiful. What things do you think are beautiful?
  2. The other dragons are pleased by fighting and picking on other people. Do you think fighting is pretty? Why or why not?
  3. At the end of the book the other dragons realize that dresses are pretty. Have you ever though something was ugly, but later changed your mind to think it was beautiful?
  4. What do you think makes something beautiful or ugly?


  1. When Elvira encounters her parents after having lived with the princesses, her parents do not recognize her. Has anyone ever thought you were someone else?
  2. Have you ever thought someone was someone else?
  3. How did Elvira convince her parents she was Elvira?
  4. What makes Elvira herself?
  5. What makes you yourself?

This book module deals with metaphysics. You can buy this book on Amazon.

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