The Boy Who Grew Dragons by Andy Shepherd

Growing dragons in Grandad’s garden leads to predictable hijinks in this light-hearted series opener.

The Boy Who Grew Dragons by Andy Shepherd, illustrated by Sam Ogilvie. Yellow Jacket, 2020, 212 pages.

Reading Level: middle grades, 8-10

Recommended for: ages 7-11

Tomas’ close relationship to his grandfather extends to working in Grandad’s garden. But even Grandad can’t identify the cactus-like plant with oblong fruit and spiky pineapple-like leaves. A bit of internet research identifies the plant as pitaya, or dragonfruit. (I looked it up myself; it’s an actual plant.) Interesting—but even more interesting when the pod Tomas took home swells, glows, and hatches into a real, sparkly, sneezing—and pooping—dragon. A small one that bonds to Tomas right away. Even small dragons can be no end of trouble, and like puppies, they poop everywhere, with the added factor of possible combustion. Still, having a real dragon for a pet is irresistible, if only Tomas can keep Flicker a secret while he figures things out.

Tomas is an appealing narrator ad his relationship with his grandfather and little sister add a nice layer of family warmth to the story. Though the plot unfolds in rather standard fashion with a grumpy neighbor and a mean classmate, humor keeps the pages turning. The story ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, indicating further adventures (and more dragons) to come.

Overall Rating: 3.75 (out of 5)

  • Worldview/moral value: 3.5
  • Artistic/literary value: 4

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Janie

Janie is the VERY senior staff writer for Redeemed Reader, as well as a long-time contributor to WORLD Magazine and an author of nine books for children. The rest of the time she's long-distance smooching on her four grandchildren (not an easy task). She lives with her equally senior husband of almost-fifty years in the Ozarks of Missouri.

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