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The Reluctant Dragon
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The Reluctant Dragon

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  1,772 ratings  ·  161 reviews
The richly expressive prose of Kenneth Grahame continues to delight the reader with unexpected word choices and fertile descriptive passages. {Illustrations} bring to life the medieval village scenes.--Language Arts. Full-color illustrations.
Hardcover, 57 pages
Published December 1st 1988 by Holiday House (first published 1898)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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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
Megan Larson
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
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
Jan
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
Chris
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
Karen
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
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.
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
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.
Mamamaggie
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
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
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
... 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
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
"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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Mitchell
Silly. And written with overly flowering language. And the dragon just doesn't look nearly as much like a dragon as it ought. But a quite different take on the Knight and the Dragon. The later sections of the book read a little bit more simply and with somewhat faster pacing, drawing you into the tale. A clever story but could have been done just a bit better with both the writing and the art. 3.5 of 5.
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
Heather
Cute. Very quick read. Good audio cast recording.

Summary: The boy who finds the dragon in the cave knows it is a kindly, harmless one, but how can he convince the frightened villagers and, especially, St. George the dragon killer that there is no cause for concern?
Natalie
The Reluctant Dragon is a joy. The superb writing transported me to a medieval village and the dragon was so loveable. I read the version with illustrations by Michael Hague which I thought very well represented the story. Written in 1898.
Karen
Good book. Ellie and mom rated it 4 stars and Jacob rated it 3 stars. This is one of those books that you really need to get into character for when you read it aloud. Changing your voice and inflection really helps in the understanding of the book.
Katie
Sep 26, 2010 Katie rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Parents and school-aged children
Shelves: children-ya, fantasy
Not bad. If it were an entree, it would need more cumin; if it were dessert, lemon; but all in all, a pretty good book for the under-ten set. It's short and easy to read, a nice thing for Mama and child to share at bedtime (and no, there's probably nothing to bring on bad dreams).

I like how St. George shows up to fight the Dragon already canonized (referred to throughout as "the Saint"). And I like how the Boy has nothing better to do than lie around and read whatever he likes.

The illustration
...more
Farina♥Moon♥Eclipse
Mar 28, 2015 Farina♥Moon♥Eclipse rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: People who love Dragon Fairy Tales and Classics
He was a shining, sea-blue, magnificent, splendid dragon that came forth from the Downs Cave and acted like a proper Dragon.. And it was his friend beside him that encouraged him!




This beautiful short story had a really great meaning in it: "To not make up stories and fancying other people would believe them just because they were plausible and highly-coloured." Because making up stories gives you nothing but trouble and headaches!

I really would love to see the Disney movie version of this one. I
...more
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“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
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