My Father’s Dragon is narrated by a young child telling the story of his father, Elmer Elevator, rescuing a baby dragon.
One day, Elmer Elevator meets an alley cat. He offers to take the cat to his home to give him shelter and milk, but his mother refuses to let the cat stay in the house. Despite not being able to keep the cat in the house, Elmer and the cat become good friends. The cat asks Elmer if he would like to fly, but not in an airplane. Elmer says he would love to be able to fly away to anywhere he desires. The cat tells Elmer about his trip to Wild Island, where a baby dragon is held captive and forced to transport the locals and cargo from one side of the river to the other. Elmer decides he will venture to Wild Island and rescue the dragon. Together, the cat and Elmer pack all the necessities for the trip. Elmer stows away on a ship and reaches the Island of Tangerina.
On the island, Elmer collects many tangerines, which he keeps in his knapsack with his other supplies. He sets off at night to cross the Ocean Rocks (the Ocean Rocks link the Island of Tangerina with Wild Island). When he arrives on Wild Island, Elmer finds he is not wanted, and has been labeled an ‘invasion’. Elmer tries to take the quickest route to the dragon, but he is blocked by many animals: seven tigers, a rhino, a lion, a gorilla, and six monkeys. He uses his wits and the supplies in his knapsack to get by each of the obstacles.
When Elmer reaches the river, he knows he has to get across, both because that is where the dragon is being held, and because he is being chased by the wild animals of the Island. Elmer cannot get across the river without the help of the crocodiles, but all they want to do is eat Elmer. He comes up with a plan. He gives a lollipop to a crocodile and then ties another onto his tail. He soon creates a chain of crocodiles, all tied up, eating lollipops. Elmer runs across the backs of the crocodiles to get to the dragon. While he is cutting off the rope tied around the dragons neck, the other animals attempt to cross the crocodiles backs, but the chain of crocodiles moves toward the middle of the river and all the animals chasing Elmer are stuck. Elmer frees the dragon and they fly off, away from Wild Island, forever.