Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Reluctant Dragon

The Reluctant Dragon

Kenneth Grahame
Illustrator:  Inga Moore 
Picture Book
For ages 6 to 10
Candlewick, 2004   ISBN: 978-0763621995

Once day a shepherd comes back from his work tending his sheep in a real state. It would appear that there is a dragon living in a cave on the Downs, and everyone knows that dragons and sheep just don’t mix. Luckily for everyone the shepherd’s son is a scholarly young fellow and he announces that he - knowing more about dragons than everyone else - will take care of the scaly problem.

The boy and the dragon soon strike up a pleasant acquaintance and the boy soon learns that the dragon is a "lazy beast" who is not in the slightest bit interested in fighting knights or eating maidens. He is quite happy to rest quietly and mind his own business. The problem is that the dragon simply cannot seem to grasp the idea that people think of his kind in far from friendly terms. What on earth is the boy to do with this reluctant dragon who won’t fight to protect himself when Saint George of dragon slaying fame comes to town?

Using the colloquial and delightfully rustic language of the Downs, Inga Moore takes us back to time when dragons were a part of everyday living and when little boys could indeed have wonderful adventures. This excellent abridgement of Kenneth Grahame’s classic and deliciously funny tale is beautifully created. Inga Moore has superbly captured the essence of the story in her glorious artwork. The double page spreads and the smaller pieces of artwork show vistas, capture the beauty of the English countryside, and introduce us to the characters and the events taking place in the story. All in all this is a book to treasure for years to come and would make an excellent addition to a collection of classic children’s literature. Readers may also enjoy Inga Moore’s illustrated abridgment of another Kenneth Grahame classic, "The Wind in the Willows" also published by Candlewick Press.