The Boy Who Lived With Dragons by Andy Shepherd illustrated by Sara Ogilvie

Tomas and his dragon Flicker are back in the second in this funny yet warm hearted series for newly independent readers. The wonder of a magical pet is tempered by the everyday problems Tomas and his friends, now with dragons of their own, encounter as they try to keep their fiery team in order. There is never a dull moment in this welcome sequel to one of my highlights of 2018.

Tomas and his friends, Ted, Kai and Kat, now each have magical dragons of their own thanks to the wondrous dragon fruit tree at the the bottom of Tomas’ Grandad’s garden. They are thrilled and love comparing notes on the dragons very different skills. But very quickly they discover that keeping a secret dragon in your bedroom or pocket is not straightforward. Not straightforward at all! None of the dragons are keen on obeying instructions and the resulting mayhem at school and home takes a great deal of effort to hide. Poor Tomas is starting to worry but then things get even trickier when the precious dragon fruit tree starts to look droopy and unwell and Liam, the school bully, begins to behave in a mysterious manner. Matters reach a climax with an extremely eventful school trip to a local farm and mysterious sightings in the build up to the local County Flower and Veg Show.

Just like the The Boy Who Grew Dragons this is a book that makes the reader smile. However it also makes you care. Andy Shepherd has developed her leading character in this sequel and Tomas is shown coping with the moral dilemma of protecting his dragon and loyalty to his friends which results in him not being entirely truthful to his kind Grandad. This aspect is well done and will prompt young readers to think about the situation with care. Grandad himself is a wonderful character, wise, tolerant and with a twinkle in his eye, the perfect Grandad in fact. The exciting drama and the crazy situations are perfect for engaging young readers and I particularly like the way the author has not entirely “got rid” of the parents but just made them realistically distracted. In truth, very distracted but it makes the story work and yet Tomas is still part of a loving family which in part gives this book its heart.

Any review will have to mention the wonderful illustrations by Sara Ogilvie which add so much to this book. I love the eye catching cover as it has great shelf appeal and captures the story well. The line drawings within the book break up the text so that it does not look daunting and they complement the story perfectly.

A lovely book that would be a welcome addition to primary school library and classroom shelves. I was a little late to this sequel and the third book, The Boy Who Flew With Dragons is published on January 10th so another treat in store.

Thank you to Andy and Piccadilly Press for providing my copy.

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.

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