A castle maid hides an injured dragon.
When the staff clears out the deceased king’s belongings, blonde, pale-skinned orphan Sophy finds a bag of strange rocks, one of which magically gives Sophy the ability to communicate with the baby dragon that crash-lands in the orchard. But there’s not much time for Sophy to chat with storm dragon Cloudy—the ill-tempered knight Sir Fitzroy despises magical creatures, and he’s on the prowl, looking for the crashed dragon. After the knight nearly catches them (storm magic and billowing royal underpants in the laundry play a role in their getaway distraction), Sophy and Cloudy steal away to safety and find the magic plant that will heal his wing. Soon, he rejoins his dragon family, and Sophy starts to miss him—but not for long. Harrison’s series opener treads familiar territory, the third-person narration liberally dotted with exclamation marks and the dialogue positively festooned with them. The essential conflict—the adults’ dislike of magical creatures ("I've never liked magical animals. How can you trust a creature that breathes fire or sings to the stars?" the queen complains)—feels wholly plot-driven and fails to give all but the most credulous readers genuine stakes to care about. Williams’ illustrations depict the people with uniformly light skin and the dragon as adorable.
An old-time–y fairy tale for dragon lovers; here’s hoping subsequent volumes offer more meat. (Fantasy. 6-10)