Henry Penwhistle knows he is the only one who can save the world, or at least his school, from his artwork.
When his drawing of a dragon comes alive and begins to take on the shapes of drawings Henry’s done in the past, Henry realizes that he is being called to a quest. Luckily, he’s wearing his raincoat—or, ahem, suit of armor. At school, the dragon wreaks havoc in the classroom, hallways, and even in the lunchroom, where the Lunch Lady is trying to prepare for an art show and pizza party. Henry and his friends must reach deep within themselves to find the courage and understanding necessary to keep the dragon from ruining everything. A tale about the power of art and the call for artists to share their art with the world without fear, this book tends to thrust its message to the forefront with a heavy hand, overshadowing the more charming aspects of the story. “You have to be brave to be an artist,” says Mr. Bruce, the bus driver. “You have to squeeze your fear down deep in your chest, and make something new.” Good advice, but it’s repeated too often in this short novel. All the humans in Schipper’s line drawings appear to be white.
What’s meant to be a romp through a boy’s imagination occasionally feels more prescription than fun. (Fantasy. 8-12)