Dragons in adult literature have a very long history, from the ancient epic Beowulf to George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. However, the monstrous reptiles have long been staples of children’s fiction, including the J.R.R. Tolkien classic The Hobbit. Kirkus Indie reviewed several dragon-themed titles for youngsters over the past year that approach the concept in intriguing ways:
The Little Rainbow Dragon by Marion Ireland and Margaret Lewer is an illustrated short story collection that aims to introduce children to all the colors of the spectrum. In the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer–like titular tale, an oddly but vibrantly hued dragon is teased until he discovers his special skill: breathing amazing, multicolored flames. The stories’ simple morality lessons result in “pleasant bedtime reading” that “encourages dialogue between adults and children,” according to our reviewer.
In Mark H. Newhouse’s middle-grade fantasy series installment The Case of the Disastrous Dragon, 12-year-old Brodie helps his Uncle Jasper, an attorney representing a dragon who’s being evicted from his ancestral home along with his babies. The youngster eventually encounters all manner of bizarre creatures in the town of Mostrovia, including flying monkeys who “actually do work for peanuts...or bananas.” “As the story progresses, so does the protagonist’s deepening understanding of himself and others,” says Kirkus’ reviewer.
Author/illustrator Ilara Stefaniuk-Gaudet’s The Secret Wish of Dragon H tells the story of Horus, a boy dragon who wishes, more than anything, to have wings, which only girl dragons have. He meets a lady dragon who says that she “wasn’t always a girl dragon”; she had a procedure that gave her beautiful wings. Later, Horus gets wings, too, and becomes Harriet. Kirkus’ reviewer calls the protagonist an “appealing, stereotype-busting” character and the book, “a good place to begin a discussion of transgender identity with youngsters.” David Rapp is the senior Indie editor.