A boy named Tomas helps his grandfather clean up his garden, and discovers that the fruit of the strange dragon fruit tree hatches real dragons, in THE BOY WHO GREW DRAGONS (Yellow Jacket, 224 pp., $13.99; ages 7 to 12), written by Andy Shepherd and illustrated by Sara Ogilvie.
This lively action/adventure/fantasy tale covers all a young reader might want to know about the care, feeding and exploding-poo dangers involved in raising a dragon. The realistic black-and-white illustrations help sell Tomas's fantastic tale.
The book's spot art of dragon scratch marks, dragon tracks and dragon poo splotches breaks up the text in a fun way. But the burned page edges and burned holes around chapter headings don't make complete sense. (If there was a hole burned in the page at the chapter heading, the chapter title wouldn't show through that hole. The second following page would.) That design quibble aside, "The Boy Who Grew Dragons" is good-hearted fantasy fun.
– New York Time Book Review
Gr 2-5-Tomas "Chipstick" Liffy has agreed to help Grandad plant a garden in his backyard, but what he finds in the process is most surprising. When Tomas unearths an unidentified spiky, red fruit, the last thing he expects is for a dragon to hatch from inside. Tomas and his new friend, Flicker, get into all sorts of tricky situations-but they learn about friendship and how to take care of those they love along the way. Shepherd delivers an outrageously funny and heartwarming story that will draw readers in and have them chuckling from beginning to end. Black-and-white illustrations by Ogilvie add to the overall Dahl-ness of this book. Young readers will laugh with Tomas and Flicker, and enjoy the heartfelt moments between Tomas and the rest of his family and friends. VERDICT This gently funny title is a must-purchase for public libraries, and a great recommendation for readers of all ages.
– School Library Journal (STARRED REVIEW)
Tomas discovers a strange cactus at the back of his grandad's messy garden with the most amazing fruit: tiny dragons.When Grandad gets the urge to tidy up the weedy mess in his back garden, Tomas happily gives himself blisters helping out. He's reluctant to chop down the fascinating cactus hidden behind the weeds, though. It "looks like a giant upturned mophead" and is covered with the strangest fruit, glowing and spiky. Tomas' online searches tell him the strange fruit is pitaya, a dragon fruit-but unlike a real pitaya, Tomas' explodes in the middle of the night, hatching into a tiny dragon. The dragon is lovely, a gorgeous, flying, magical creature. It is also, like many babies, a creature that mainly eats and poops. There's flammable, exploding poo everywhere: in his dad's porridge, on his mother's best towel, and in Tomas' gym bag-and even illustrated in smoldering glory. As Tomas seeks to keep his dragon hidden while seeking any others that might have hatched, the lively illustrations keep pace with the slapstick action. Blond, white Tomas and his lovely pet are not the stars of the irreverent pictures, though; that honor goes to the action: a terrifying leaping cat, a grumpy neighbor toppling into a wheelbarrow of flaming cabbages, and more.Never has so much toilet humor been so charming. (Fantasy. 8-11)
– Kirkus Reviews
When Tomas discovers a wild-looking plant in his grandfather's garden, he takes one of its unusual fruits home. It turns out to be a pitaya, or dragon fruit, and soon a tiny dragon emerges. Tomas is astonished but quickly resolves to raise the glittering creature, Flicker, in secret. Even as it sneezes sparks, chars the drapes, and produces highly explosive excrement, Tomas manages to keep his new pet hidden, but it becomes too difficult when he realizes that the dragon fruit tree is producing more and more mythical creatures. Shepherd's inventive story takes the humorous dragon-fruit premise and spins it into a tale full of silliness and charm. It's a joy to watch Tomas navigate his new, dragon-filled world, and readers will laugh at Flicker's antics and hold their breath during close calls as Tomas' community inches closer to discovering the magical creature. Ogilvie's accompanying illustrations complement the story perfectly, including an occasional singed page or plop of dragon droppings. Readers will be eager for more.
"Irresistible... everything you want in a book for a newly independent reader - tender realism, honouring children's inner feelings and anarchic magic, both beautiful and regrettable. Sara Ogilvie's illustrations capture both enchantment and stench... A modern classic."
– The Guardian
A warm-hearted debut... lovely, expressive, characterful.
– Sunday Times