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The Reluctant Dragon Hardcover – April 1, 2004


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Hardcover, April 1, 2004
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool and up
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Orchard; First Edition edition (April 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0439455812
  • ISBN-13: 978-0439455817
  • Product Dimensions: 12.2 x 9 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,242,422 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Shepard's pristine ink illustrations adorn this 1938 edition of Grahame's story. Ages 8-11.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Grade 3-5-This now-classic tale was originally published in 1898 as part of Kenneth Grahame's semiautobiographical short story collection, "Dream Days." A shepherd discovers a dragon living in a cave. His son knows from his reading of natural history and fairy tales that some dragons are reasonable and nonthreatening. He approaches the creature, who proves to be a gentle, noncombative sort. The villagers, however, see him as a menace, and St. George is sent for. The boy is able to convince him that this is a good dragon, and the three devise a plan that will give everyone a fine show and allow the dragon to stay on in the village, writing poetry and singing. San Souci's abridgment has the usual gains and losses of such a process. Much of Grahame's wit and unique style have gone by the wayside, but the text is more accessible to a modern audience. The message of compassion, loyalty, and friendship still shines through. Segal's pastel illustrations, frequently set in miniature boxes in a vertical line, sometimes ignore descriptions as provided by the text. The dragon has "blue scales on top and green below." Segal's dragon is green on top, yellow below and without a scale to be seen. The pictures are captioned with an odd mix of print and script that will be difficult for children to decipher. Libraries owning the original text with illustrations by either Ernest H. Shepard or Michael Hague may consider this version an additional purchase.
Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Customer Reviews

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Kenneth Grahame's other wonderful story, retold.
rarefied girl
Moore also displays great taste and talent in her beautiful colored pencil and ink drawings.
M. Allen Greenbaum
The author creates a believable character of a harmless dragon.
Lizzie Lin

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Fred Camfield on September 1, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This was absolutely my favorite book as a young child about 60 years ago. I am pleased to see that it is still available. Most fables about dragons picture them as dangerous beasts guarding treasure troves, but this dragon is a different sort indeed - an erudite peaceful dragon that had hoped to have a quiet retirement. When a knight arrives to rid the neighborhood of the dragon, he is invited in for tea, and discovers the dragon does not wish to fight. In the classic tale, "Beowulf," the dragon was provoked by someone stealing a piece of the treasure. In this story, the knight finds a quite different means to provoke the dragon into breathing fire (after all, the knight's reputation is at stake). The story has an unexpected ending. The book is suitable for reading to single children or groups of younger children, or for slightly older children (and sometimes adults) to read for themselves.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 2, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Grahame's _Reluctant Dragon_ is one of the books I read numerous times as a child. I've also reread it as an adult. One of the reasons I loved it so (I realize now) is that it features a character that most of the others hate because of who he seems to be. The Dragon, who comes to the Downs to find a peaceful life and compose poetry, soon finds himself the target of a campaign on the part of the townspeople to do away with him. His only friend is the Boy, one of the farm children. Through his friendship with the Boy (who does not have a name, as I remember), we realize that although he may be a dreaded beast - a dragon - he is actually not the stereotypical firebreathing, damsel-distressing monster. In fact, he is quite kind and gentle.
When St. George comes, and the plan is to slay the Dragon, the Boy attempts to intercede(...I won't ruin the story for you but I will say you won't be sobbing at the end).
This book was important to me, I think, because I was teased a great deal as a child - I was sort of strange and dreamy and I didn't "look right" for the school I was in. But reading this book reminded me that it was better to be true to myself and who I was than to try (and fail) to fit in. (I just wish I had a friend as good as the Boy.) I think maybe this book would be best for slightly older children, if younger children are going to be read it you may have to do some explaining of the words and the archaic phrases. And the whole idea of St. George and how he is a part of English legend.
I do think that this book is one that imaginative and young-at-heart grownups would appreciate, too. If you are such, and have never read "The Reluctant Dragon", I recommend it.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By M. Allen Greenbaum HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on April 27, 2005
Format: Hardcover
The original "St. George and the Dragon" story is a frightening tale. Depending on which version you read, the townspeople give the scaly, stinking, vicious, dragon tribute of two sheep per day, and, when they invariably run out of sheep, they begin feeding it their own children. The King is obviously horrified, but what can he do? However, when the lottery selects his own daughter, who should appear but Sir George, (later the patron Saint of England) just in time for the king, if not for the subjects. The daughter worries for his safety, but the knight spears the dragon in its one vulnerable spot, then in a gallant display, borrows the daughter's girdle to drag the wounded dragon down to the town. For his own tribute, George asks only that the citizens become baptized; after this, he cuts off the dragon's head. Not a good ending for the dragon, but then, he wasn't a very nice dragon.

Like others before him, Kenneth Grahame modified this bloody tale for the consumption of the very young, and turned it completely on its head. This dragon would rather sleep than slay, purr than prey, and his true nature is discovered by a tow-headed young boy who gradually becomes friends with the pacifist, poetry-loving beast ("why I wouldn't hurt a fly."). Lay low, he advises him. Naturally, though, St. George arrives, and everyone acts as expected--except for the dragon. He simply refuses to attend his own demise:

"Well, tell him [St. George] to go away," said the dragon. "I'm sure he's not nice. Say he can write if he likes. But I won't see him." The boy, however, understands the underlying social pressures (which echo those of the British class system during Grahame's time) and replies: "But you've got to," said the boy. "You've got to fight him, you know, because he's St.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Tiny529 on September 7, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I bought this book for my future child (due Feb 2006) as part of my growing library. I read it through and thought it was cute, if a bit antiquated (what do you expect for a book that was written over 100 years ago?) Basically, a young boy befriends a dragon. When the townsfolk realize the dragon exists, they call upon a champion to vanquish him, blaming the dragon for crimes that he didn't commit. The boy talks to the champion about his friend and they all agree to stage a fight, rather than fight to the death. Once the play fight is over (the champion only gives the dragon a small flesh wound), it is agreed by all that the dragon will not harm anyone and the townsfolk will stop telling lies about the dragon. Nice moral story.

My only problem with the book is that it has been "sensitively abridged". I'm not sure what that means for "The Reluctant Dragon", but my "sensitively abridged" copy of "The Wind in the Willows" (also by Kenneth Graham) edits out silly things like "splashes of whitewash all over his black fur". If the book has to be so politically correct that it can't even refer to the color of an animal's fur, I'm not sure that I really want to associate with the edition. I'd be curious to compare this edition of "The Reluctant Dragon" with the original text now.
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