Book review: Waking Dragons

A little boy is left to wake the dragons and get them ready for school. Photo: Derek Anderson

SILVER SPRING, April 13, 2013 – Waking Dragons by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Derek Anderson ISBN: 9781416990321

The main character is a little boy who is left a note by his mother that says “Don’t forget to wake the dragons before school.” The simple note sets off an adventure. Dressed in a suit of armor, the little boy ventures in to wake a pair of dragons sleeping under blankets in castle-post beds.

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As the reader discovers, dragons do not like waking up and getting out of bed. They behave much like kids being woken for school. Their routines are also similar to childrens’ as well: they brush their teeth, they put their pajamas in the hamper, they eat breakfast, they get dressed…and they fly to school.

Photo by J. Aaron Farr. Click to enlarge.


But each step is a challenge. The boy’s dog holds a fire extinguisher while the boy brushes the dragon’s teeth, breakfast involves a catapult, and the house is actually a castle. As it turns out, the suit of armor is not just for the boy’s protection, he is actually a knight in training, and the dragons drop him off at knight school at the end of the story.

Throughout the book the boy is never named, and with very few words per page, the story is mostly told through the pictures. Stories with few words such as this are good for young children with short attention spans. Parents will find the humor in the story, as waking a dragon is just as difficult as waking a child for school, and possibly just as perilous.

With cartoons like “How to tame your dragon” on television, this is a timely and imaginative children’s book that sword-wielding children will love.

Derek Anderson is a veteran to children’s literature, and has illustrated several books including the popular “Little Quack” series. Since the majority of the story, and all of the humor, is found in the pictures, Anderson’s are immensely important. His use of bright colors is well suited to this imaginative tale and really brings the dragons and the little boy to life, making it seem completely plausible that dragons live among us.

Jane Yolen is one of the most prolific writers of our time. At any given time, if you walk into a bookstore you are likely to find at least one of her books on the new release shelf. Having written over 300 books, mostly for children, no children’s library is complete without at least a few of her tales. Her storytelling and ability to create mythic tales has garnered her the moniker “Hans Christian Andersen of America.” The number of awards she has won is too numerous to list them all.  

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Photo by Robynlou Kavanagh.


Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers in October of 2012, Waking Dragons is available only as a hardcover.  


Follow Brighid on Twitter a @BrighidMoret and receive updates when new columns post on Facebook or Google+. Read more about first time parenting issues in Parenting the First Time Through at The Communities at The Washington Times. Find more reviews of children’s picture books at Big Reads For Little Hands.

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Brighid Moret

Brighid is a freelance writer and first time mother.  She holds an MA in Writing from Johns Hopkins University.  Find her on Facebook @Brighid Moret


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