A gloriously happy debut this engaging story is told with humour and warmth and would be a treat for newly confident readers. The charming illustrations by Sara Ogilvie combine perfectly with Andy Shepherd’s entertaining adventure in this welcome addition to the growing range of good quality illustrated fiction for the 7 – 9 age group.
When Tomas discovers a strange tree at the bottom of his Grandad’s garden, although he doesn’t think much of it, he decides to take one of its funny looking fruits home with him. Once in his bedroom Tomas gets the surprise of his life when a tiny dragon emerges from the fruit! The tree was a dragon-fruit tree and Tomas now has a dragon of his very own. Of course Tomas is delighted but decides to keep his new friend, Flicker, a secret from the rest of his family. However this proves to be much more difficult than he expected. Although Flicker the dragon is great fun and rapidly becomes a good friend he is rather prone to doing dragon-type things. How on earth is Tomas going to explain his burnt toothbrush, the devastation in his bedroom and, worst of all, the exploding dragon poo? Then on a return visit to his grandad’s he notices that there are more fruits growing on the peculiar tree. Tomas has become the boy who grows dragons!
This is a story guaranteed to put smiles on faces. The adventure is both original and entertaining and I think that young readers will warm to Tomas. There is a lot of fun in this book but a lot of heart too. I particularly enjoyed the relationship between Tomas and his Grandad and that bond as they worked alongside each other in the garden felt comfortingly familiar. Andy Shepherd has a knack of describing emotions and situations in a way that young readers will understand and Tomas’s family are both realistic and entertaining. I also loved that a visit to the local library was included in the story.
Sara Ogilvie’s illustrations are wonderful and add to the overall appeal of the book. The chapters are short enough not to put off newly confident readers and yet this also feels like a wonderful bridge to longer fantasy novels. It would work very well read aloud to younger readers too being full of jokes and edge of the seat moments. This is a treat of a book and I’m delighted that there are more stories to follow this one. The second book in the series, The Boy Who Lived With Dragons, is due to be published in September 2018 with another title planned for early 2019. More fun to look forward to!
Thank you to Andy and Piccadilly Press for kindly sending me a copy of this book.
Andy Shepherd has a wonderful website full of information and entertaining stuff for children including yummy recipes, dragonfruit fact sheets and quizzes. The range of teaching resources Andy has thoughtfully created for schools is extensive and covers everything from creative writing to art and research to media and these are available to download here.