Dear Reluctant Dragon,
Thank you for a wonderful reminder of my own childhood and the delight that comes with a good story.
P.S. Book Details
Author: Kenneth Grahame
Book Length: 58 pages
Book Genre: Children’s Fantasy
Publication Date: 1898
Synopsis: In this beloved classic story, a young boy befriends a poetry-loving dragon living in the Downs above his home. When the town-folk send for St. George to slay the dragon, the boy needs to come up with a clever plan to save his friend and convince the townsfolk to accept him. This story first appeared as a chapter in Grahame’s Dream Days and was first published as a separate book by Holiday House in 1938 with illustrations by Ernest H. Shepard.
What a pleasant read. A simple and comedic tale about a little boy and a dragon becoming friends. After they are close friends, the boy realizes this dragon is not scary or evil, but instead a good chum (who loves to read poetry). Soon a knight comes with the desire to battle the dragon for his own glory. But… the dragon is not really “up to it”. So, he politely refuses which leaves the boy to become a mediator.
Unlike Grahame’s book Wind in the Willows, I felt like the story moved a bit quicker. The Reluctant Dragon has Grahame’s unique voice and distinct characters, as well as an engaging storyline and strong modelling of values.
There are three main characters in this story. The dragon was by far my favorite of the three. He was so cute and moody. I laughed out loud at his prideful actions and his witty responses to his friend, the boy. The boy was more of a minor character. Lastly, the knight St. George comes in towards the end of the story to propose a duel with the dragon, which ends with an interesting comedic compromise.
At the beginning of the story, I found it interesting how Grahame described the boy and his parents relationship. The boy was treated with the respect and autonomy as if he was an adult. I found this so interesting because of the connection to Wind in the Willows when Mole emerges from his hole, which many attribute to childhood. This idea of children being treated as adults feels so counter to the stories being released today of children fighting to get out of childhood (rather than emerging with encouragement).
The narrator in the audible version of this book was spectacular. I enjoyed listening to his different voices and felt like a child once again being read bedtime stories. Ever since I was a child, I have enjoyed being read books. I remember being read all the Little House on the Prairie books by my Mom. When I have the opportunity to be read a children’s book I try to jump on the train. I am so thankful this lovely story was available for me to listen to.
I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this book. I would recommend this book to those parents out there looking for an interesting bedtime story that will keep their children engaged. If you don’t have children or are looking for a book to read yourself, this is still an excellent read. Similar to other Grahame writings or The Beasts of Eld, readers who enjoy the fantastical with quirky characters will not be disappointed.