The Dragon Boy is a coming of age story.
Orphaned twice by the time he was nine, he was living on the streets and did not even know his own name. He was not allowed to set foot inside the one place he was determined to find work. To complete the disaster of his young life, the object of his affections was Star, an immense emerald-green dragon. But good fortune finally smiled upon him: Star was a Luck Dragon. Suddenly he was admitted as a barn boy into the elite Dragon Compound. He was given three warm meals a day, work, and even a name. And best of all, Star took him on as his secret apprentice.
For fourth grade and up, it is an enjoyable read for any age.
Its themes of courage and unforeseen turns are especially suited for the Michaelmas season. In the classroom, teachers of younger grades can easily read it to their children. It is useful as a reader in the fifth or sixth grade to stimulate conversation around good and evil, bullying, finding a purpose in life, destiny, perseverance, and above all, courage. 1st Place Winner Moonbeam Children's Books Awards for the Best First Books category.
5.25 x 7.5 inches
The Dragon Boy by Donald Samson
There is a lot to love in this page-turner – a terrific story, very well written. But for me, the heart of The Dragon Boy is the relationship between the dragon, Star, and his young friend, the protagonist, Straw. Of course, the adventure literature cannon includes many memorable relationships between young heroes-to-be and their older, wiser mentors – a kind of device that can support the narrative, by providing context and backstory – but this one is particularly satisfying.
Adolescence can be confusing; it’s a busy time developmentally. For many of us, just having someone to talk to can help with the overwhelming uncertainty we face during this period. Straw is an orphan, an outsider, but in some ways he’s a classic example of a misunderstood young person; he has an independent streak, but he also deeply yearns for acceptance. He has a developing awareness of himself, of his place in the world, and an inner determination he can’t quite make sense of or explain, which compels him to be near Star. The dragon is a bit of a mystery himself: revered, terrifying, and handled with utmost caution and strict adherence to routine, yet bestowing peace and prosperity simply by virtue of residing idly in the kingdom. There’s a bit of a disconnect between what his caretakers understand about him and what Straw perceives, and as the relationship between the boy and the dragon deepens, Star reveals more of his wise and loving nature. Star is both mentor and friend to the boy, a source of great comfort and knowledge, almost grandfatherly. And for his part, the boy brings out the dragon’s spirit and benevolence. For the reader, the simplicity is endearing and a joy: they truly enjoy one another’s company, and have the easy banter of close friends.
Children ages 9 to 12 will especially appreciate this book; the characters are wholly believable and (mostly) likable, and the story engrossing. I found the dialogue among the young people to be strikingly authentic, and it is often very funny. All around, a great read, and you’ll be happy there’s a sequel!
Review by Lauren Ciborski