Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

A Dragon's Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans

A Dragon's Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans

Laurence Yep , Joanne Ryder
Illustrator:  Mary GrandPre 
Fiction  Series
For ages 8 to 12
Random House, 2016   ISBN: 978-0385392310

Miss Drake the dragon has suffered a great loss. Her pet human, Fluffy, has died, and the dragon is grieving. She is considering sleeping for a few decades until she feels less miserable. She is even considering not getting another pet at all. After all, humans are so fragile and they don’t live very long.

Miss Drake therefore gets rather annoyed when a small human girl barges into her home without having the decency to call or send a note first. The girl is called Winnie, and she is Fluffy’s great-niece. Unfortunately, she has none of Fluffy’s gentle ways and good manners. Winnie is not at all impressed with Miss Drake and her home, and she makes her disappointment quite clear, which is really very shocking. Humans are supposed to look up to, nay even revere, dragons. That is how things are supposed to be done.

The problem is that Winnie is a very independent child. She has not had an easy life, and it is only since the death of her aunt that her life has become relatively comfortable and stable. Winnie therefore knows how to cope in an unpredictable world and she is not easily impressed. Nor does she automatically give a dragon the respect she is due.

Miss Drake does her best to get rid of the child, but Winnie, who has heard about the dragon from her great-aunt, refuses to be dismissed. She has a key to Miss Drake’s home (given to her by her aunt) and she waltzes in, expecting Miss Drake to play games with her and serve her tea. Miss Drake begins to realize that she is going to have to take Winnie in hand, whether she likes it or not. For Fluffy’s sake Miss Drake will do her duty no matter how unpleasant it is.

When Miss Drake tries to sneak out of her back door to go shopping, she finds out that Winne has padlocked the door, and when she tries to use her front door that is padlocked too. Winnie will only free the dragon if Miss Drake asks her to do so. Politely. Gritting her teeth, Miss Drake complies, and then, not knowing what else to do, she takes Winnie shopping with her.

It turns out that dragons and other magicals living in the San Francisco area have a special shop that they patronize. At the moment the Emporium is located on a cloud above the city, and that is where Miss Drake, with Winnie on her back, goes. After dealing with a few unpleasant magicals who are out to create trouble, Miss Drake and Winnie look around the incredible shop, and Miss Drake buys a few things, including a sketchbook for Winnie. The child is a gifted artist and Miss Drake wants to encourage her. Plus, she hopes having the sketchbook will keep Winnie occupied and out of trouble for a little while at least. Miss Drake never imagines that the sketchbook is going to create a number of very challenging problems, one of which could threaten the whole city of San Francisco.

In this wonderful story, readers will meet a dragon who unexpectedly acquires a new ‘pet;' a pet that turns out to be a very troublesome creature. However, the dragon does come to appreciate that the girl has some pleasing, even admirable, qualities. Readers will enjoy seeing how the relationship between the two main characters develops, and will be delighted to enter a world where magic is alive and well.