Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Reluctant Dragon” as Want to Read:
The Reluctant Dragon
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Read Book* *Different edition

The Reluctant Dragon

3.95  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,008 Ratings  ·  174 Reviews
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 separ ...more
Hardcover, 58 pages
Published September 1st 1938 by Holiday House (first published 1898)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Reluctant Dragon, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Reluctant Dragon

The Story About Ping by Marjorie FlackThe Little House by Virginia Lee BurtonFive Children and It by E. NesbitMillions of Cats by Wanda GágThe Adventures of Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren
Best Children's Books Most People Haven't Heard of...
35th out of 993 books — 713 voters
Eragon by Christopher PaoliniThe Hobbit by J.R.R. TolkienEldest by Christopher PaoliniBrisingr by Christopher PaoliniDragonflight by Anne McCaffrey
Dragons
162nd out of 976 books — 1,903 voters


More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Melanti
Jan 06, 2016 Melanti rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A really cute story.

Though, I have to wonder if a modern child is going to get all the humor that the original child audience was able to get. They'll still think it' funny, of course, but some of the humor is more specific to the era that it was written.

For instance, when the dragon says "You must tell him to go away at once, please. Say he can write if he likes, but I can't give him an interview. I'm not seeing anybody at present." the modern kids are going to get that the dragon is just goin
...more
Ann
There once was a shepherd boy who read a lot and thus knew much about fairies, witches, and dragons. So, when a dragon moves into the hill by his family's farm, he goes to talk to the dragon. Turns out that the dragon is actually very nice, and has no inclination to cause anyone any harm at all. He really would just like to write and recite his poetry.
But, the townspeople are afraid and, even though the dragon hasn't harmed anyone, they want to get rid of him. Will the boy be able to keep the dr
...more
Jan
Jul 10, 2011 Jan rated it it was amazing
Kenneth Grahame is, of course, much better known for the Wind in the Willows. This book is an almost unknown gem by comparison. Kids and adults love dragons, and this one is drawn with such humour and wit that he is totally adorable. As a child I could never get enough of this book, and my daughter and her children are the same. The language will stretch a younger child but it is refreshing to have a child's book that does not 'dumb down' the writing. The illustrations are a delight and it is a ...more
Megan Larson
Jul 28, 2012 Megan Larson rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-and-ya
What a clever twist on a dragon tale. The shepherd boy is such a great reader of fairy tales that he takes the advent of a dragon to his hometown quite in stride. The only problem is that, although the dragon is thoroughly tame, the townspeople love a good fight and absolutely insist that a dragon-slayer be sent for. Thankfully, the man in question, none other than St. George himself, knows how people sometimes exaggerate, and doesn't care too much for killing. The solution is agreed upon by the ...more
Shanna Gonzalez
Jun 27, 2010 Shanna Gonzalez rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children-08-12
The Reluctant Dragon is a mild-mannered specimen of his breed who, unlike the "active and earnest" fellows who used to charge around battling knights, has survived long enough to develop his passion for poetry. He is befriended by an intelligent young shepherd boy, who is placed in an awkward position when the villagers discover the dragon's presence. Although the dragon has harmed no one, the villagers are so aroused that they call on Saint George to battle this "pestilential scourge." When Sai ...more
Chris
Mar 26, 2014 Chris rated it really liked it
Shelves: boys-books
Thoroughly enjoyed this little book. The writing was fresh and witty, and Grahame inverted the classic St. George kills dragon tale.

This dragon is reluctant to fight, preferring instead to work on his verses. The shepherd's son knows from his extensive reading of natural history and fairy tales that a dragon must fight when St. George comes to town. But this dragon balks. So the three devise a spectacle in which all keep their honor, the townspeople are treated to a worthy show, and the dragon g
...more
Julia Brumfield
Aug 27, 2015 Julia Brumfield rated it liked it
Shelves: book, disney-origins
I promised that I have read this book somewhere, maybe once upon a time, for it is familiar but I just cannot place where.

For me the writing was bland and the characters didn't have much of a personality besides annoying, vexing and what the. And to top the flat personalities the main characters with the exception of St. George didn't have names but were called by their place in the book then given with "and that was their skill while they were good at it".

It would be interesting to see how D
...more
Karen
Aug 03, 2013 Karen rated it it was amazing
Kenneth Grahame, best known for writing The Wind in the Willows, wrote this book. Ernest H. Shepard, best known for illustrating Winnie-The-Pooh, illustrated this book. With a winning team like that, it is no surprise that this well-loved book has become a classic.

The plot of this story is straightforward enough: A dragon moves into a cave near a village. The villagers want the dragon gone. The villagers hire a knight to fight the dragon. But there are such delightful twists and turns along the
...more
Althea Ann
Jan 31, 2014 Althea Ann rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Of course, I had 'The Wind in the Willows' as a child. I truly wish I'd had this story as well. It's less well known - but I'm not sure why.

This is a truly wonderful story-within-a-story: two children, fancying that the snow tracks they've followed from their yard are those of a dragon, encounter a kindly neighbor, who tells them a story - of course, about a boy who meets a literarily-inclined, and unusually good-tempered dragon.

Whimsical, warm and clever.
Manuel Alfonseca
Feb 01, 2016 Manuel Alfonseca rated it liked it
A singular parody of the legend of St. George and the dragon, with no princess, a dragon that refuses to fight, and a boy who acts as middleman.
Barb Middleton
An oldie moldie. But goodie. Ew... we have some really old books in our library. First published in 1898, "The Reluctant Dragon" shows how Kenneth Grahame was influenced by Victorian writers with voice. The humorous and stuffy narration reminds me of Lemony Snicket in his Series of Unfortunate Events, Lois Lowry in "The Willoughbys", and Pseudonymous Bosch in his Bad Books series, poking fun at Victorian narrators. "The Reluctant Dragon" starts out like a fairy tale, "Long ago..." and ends happi ...more
Jeremy
Dec 25, 2015 Jeremy rated it really liked it
This passage says it all:

The Boy, who had apparently been absorbed in his book during his father’s recital, now closed the volume, yawned, clasped his hands behind his head, and said sleepily:
‘It’s all right, father. Don’t you worry. It’s only a dragon.’

‘Only a dragon?’ cried his father. ‘What do you mean, sitting there, you and your dragons? Only a dragon indeed! And what do you know about it?’

"Cos it is, and ’cos I do know,’ replied the Boy, quietly. ‘Look here, father, you know we’ve each of
...more
David
I'd never heard of this book before I did a search on Shepard illustrated children's literature. What a sweet little gem of a book! Not much to the story. St. George vs the Dragon, except this time the Dragon is a good guy. It's the poetic prose that makes it something special. Love this book.
Samra
Jan 20, 2016 Samra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: school, library
adorable, dragon is a good guy. love the colors and how the characters help each other out
Mamamaggie
Apr 08, 2009 Mamamaggie rated it it was amazing
OMG, loved this. my six year old and i were reading for a library list and this story, oh this story is so witty and hilarious. i laughed many times. we are starting wind and the willows now. tickle a funny bone long forgotten, read this one.
Tim
Mar 31, 2011 Tim rated it it was amazing
The Reluctant Dragon is a delight of language and plot. The pacifist and poetical dragon, the wise and well-read boy, and the compassionate St. George come together in a small story that I love to read and hear aloud.
Katy
Jun 24, 2015 Katy rated it liked it
I'm a firm believer that one should read classics, both older and contemporary. The Reluctant Dragon is one I had NOT read. A young boy discovers a dragon living outside his village, a dragon who would rather read and discuss poetry in lieu of doing what dragons are expected to do. When the villagers find out, they send for Saint George to slay the dragon. Saint George, the dragon, and the boy have a different plan in mind though when they become acquainted.

What a wonderful classic of fairy tale
...more
Ilze
May 18, 2015 Ilze rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
... the reluctant one, in this case, is a toddler that refuses to sleep. But if you read her a book, especially one that takes so long to get going (for a toddler, anyway), we don't even reach the half-way mark and she's in dreamland! Now you'd think that i'd be able to drop the book and rush out of her room to get to the things i ought to be doing ... actually, the story fascinated and i couldn't help finish it in the presence of a pleasant little ~zzz~ coming from the bed. It's an art to hold ...more
Kim
Jan 11, 2013 Kim rated it really liked it
A boy discovers a very personable dragon living in a cave near his farm. The dragon likes nothing better than to sit in the sunshine meditating and composing poetry, and the boy enjoys his company. Trouble arrives however when the nearby village learns of his presence. Assuming the dragon will have a violent nature, the villagers call in St. George to do him in. The boy warns the dragon, who insists he will not fight. The boy then visits St. George, who turns out to be a sympathetic person. Neit ...more
Teresa Bateman
Jul 23, 2013 Teresa Bateman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"The Reluctant Dragon" by the same author who gifted us with "The Wind in the Willows" is back. It was originally published in 1938 and has been reissued several times, but this is the 75th anniversary edition. It includes a fascinating introduction by Leonard S. Marcus and, of course, has Ernest H. Shepard's classic illustrations. Here is a dragon unlike most others--a reluctant dragon who only wishes to write poetry and loll about. A young boy befriends him and all is well until the villagers ...more
Kelly
Oct 17, 2011 Kelly rated it liked it
1. Picture book/Short Novel: Traditional/Fantasy.
2. This story of a boy and a special dragon that has a unique relationship with the boy. The boy earns the trust and friendship of the dragon. The boy soon discovers that a St. Georges will be coming to defeat the dragon, but he soon arranges a meeting between the dragon and the Saint so that a "fight" can be arranged.
3. Critique:
A. Uniqueness of the plot
B. Besides the traditional story of the knight that defeats a dragon, this story does an excel
...more
David Christian
Oct 05, 2013 David Christian rated it really liked it
Minimalism, Old English Banter, and Satirical Commentary At Its Best

The Reluctant Dragon is a hear-warming tale of friendship, problem solving, and challenging old ideas. A boy ventures into the cave above his house after his terrified Father claims he met a dragon. The boy, who spends his immersed in all types of books, befriends a surprisingly well-mannered dragon after joining him for some evening poetry, tea and biscuits. Soon after, the townspeople, begin to talk and call on the services of
...more
Kris
Oct 06, 2014 Kris rated it it was amazing
Subtle. Simple. Short. No chapters, no needless introductions, no worthless explanations. Lovely.

This is a new layer that adds to the classic story of St. George and the Dragon. I felt like Grahame expected children to already be familiar with the ancient poetry, so one could read this and find all the little subtleties to it. From this book we are to see the legend from the child's perspective, because of course that is important.

I appreciated the nod to the fantastical, the expectations of res
...more
Denae Christine
Jan 30, 2012 Denae Christine rated it did not like it
This is not a children's book. The purple prose is annoying for me to read; it has to be worse for a child. It is far too flowery, not straightforward enough. The Boy is not very likeable. One, he never gets a name. Two, he acts like everyone else is so stupid and rude. He complains that the villagers lie and like to watch fights too much, but he begs the dragon and St George to fight. Three, he complains he has to do so much, when he really does almost nothing, and only cries when he is tired.
A
...more
Den
Apr 27, 2015 Den rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children, 2015
This dragon isn't a typical dragon - he doesn't like fighting but the villagers are scared of him, despite him being the friendliest dragon ever and then St George - the dragon slayer - rides into town. Will this be the end for the friendly dragon?
No - luckily for him, Sam, comes up with a plan where a fake fight will make the villagers happy and hopefully win the dragon over to their side!!!!

Colourful illustrations and I can't believe how old the original story is!
Lisa
Jan 29, 2014 Lisa rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-s-books
Wonderful story about a dragon who would rather write poetry than kill innocent maidens and the little boy who would really like to see a good fight without anyone getting killed. The humor appeals to both parent and child, which makes for the perfect read-aloud. The language is a bit more advanced than the average 7 year old is used to, so important to read with or to a primary student to make sure they understand. And a light hearted and less violent way to introduce a child to the story of St ...more
Emily
Mar 22, 2014 Emily rated it liked it
Fun story, with enough fanciful elements mixed with humor to make it quite a good read. My only complaint was Grahame's style of writing many long run-on sentences which made it hard to follow and sometimes you couldn't catch your breath as events unfolded one after the next all in the same sentence and you almost had to read things twice to make sure you caught all the details throughout the paragraph-long sentences.
Lori
Mar 21, 2014 Lori rated it really liked it
A delightful tale, well told. A dragon has taken up residence in the cave above town. The Boy goes to talk to him and they become friends. St. George comes to slay the dragon and rescue the citizens, even though there has been no threat or vandalism whatsoever, it's just the thing to do. The Boy must intercede to assure a happy ending.
As an adult, I loved the humor in this story. I think children will love the adventure.
Jonathan Wylie
Jan 11, 2016 Jonathan Wylie rated it liked it
Shelves: read-aloud, 2016
This is a sweet little story. My kids and I just used this book to talk about how to analyze literature. We talked about introduction (setting, characters), rising action (building conflict), climax, falling action (resolution), and finally conclusion. Our goal was to discover what the author was trying to communicate. I recommend this book for family's because it is a simple story that has a nice plot.
Cindi
Learning about "Friends and Mentors"

I probably wouldn't have picked this up if it weren't for the reference in "Tending the Heart of Virtue." The story was fine. It wasn't terribly inspiring, but it was a little entertaining. Once we finished reading I wanted to remember which section of "Tending the Heart..." it was in. Turns out that it's in the section about friends and mentors (He mentions that this is the most lovable dragon in children't literature. Instead, I pick the dragon from "My Fath
...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Book of Dragons
  • Merlin and the Dragons
  • Pegasus
  • The Dragon in the Library (Dragon Keepers, #3)
  • The Serpent Came to Gloucester
  • Tell Me a Dragon
  • The Kitchen Knight: A Tale of King Arthur
  • No Such Thing As Dragons
  • Drake's Comprehensive Compendium of Dragonology
  • The Book of Dragons
  • Freddy Goes to Florida
  • Farewell to Shady Glade
  • The Real Thief
  • Dinosaur Bob and His Adventures with the Family Lazardo
  • A Dignity of Dragons
  • Beowulf
  • The Bear That Heard Crying
  • The Adventures of Reddy Fox
3843
Kenneth Grahame was a British writer, most famous for The Wind in the Willows (1908), one of the classics of children's literature. He also wrote The Reluctant Dragon; both books were later adapted into Disney films.
More about Kenneth Grahame...

Share This Book



“No, I can't stop for sonnets; my mother is sitting up. I'll look you up tomorrow, sometime or other, and do for goodness' sake try and realise that you're a pestilential scourge, or your find yourself in a most awful fix. Good-night!” 4 likes
“You see all the other fellows were so active and earnest and all that sort of thing- always rampaging, and skirmishing, and scouring the desert sands, and pacing the margin of the sea, and chasing knights all over the place, and devouring damsels, and going on generally- whereas I liked to get my meals regular and then to prop my back against a bit of rock and snooze a bit, and wake up and think of things going on and how they kept going on just the same, you know!” 3 likes
More quotes…