There’s s’more to camping with a dragon than meets the eye.
Lots of kids are scared at their first day of sleep-away camp, and dragons are no different. Taking pity on a quaking reptile, the human narrator offers to be his buddy. A dragon should be a fun companion, but when swimming, sailing, tug of war, archery, horseback riding, and even a puppet show go wrong, the two become the camp pariahs. The narrator even begins to rethink their choice of buddy. When Dragon’s attempts to remove a spider get a bit incendiary, it’s the final straw, and the narrator throws him out of the tent. Then Dragon disappears. All the campers go searching for him, becoming frightened by the growling of something big and scary in the forest. Then Dragon appears, and “the angry creature is gone.” The bulk of the book is a pedantic tale advocating patience with those who are different, while the climax is simply confusing: Was Dragon the “angry creature,” or did he scare one away, as the campers believe? Happily the bright and cheery illustrations compensate for the text. Though the dragon remains mute, the art renders him expressive and emotional. The narrator is a blond, pigtailed, bespectacled white child, while the other campers display some diversity.
In the end, the most notable feature of the book may be that the setting is a sleep-away summer camp rather than a backyard. (Picture book. 3-6)