I'm so glad to have finally got around to reading the wonderful 'The Dragon and Her Boy'. Penny Chrimes kindly offered to create a video, reading an extract, for my school's World Book Day, which was shared with every class. Teachers and children really loved hearing about the story, which, by the way, is a brilliant Victorian-esque adventure, filled with danger, kindness and, of course, a grumpy crumpet-loving dragon!

Stick is one of the gutterlings; children scavenging for food on the streets of a hot and grubby London. When two of his friends go missing after a strange earthquake at Bartholomew Fair, Stick goes searching in the underground tunnels, only to find an ancient dragon trapped and in a foul mood. If Stick can help the dragon, perhaps he can find his friends too. But there's a savage, strange man searching for the dragon too, who smells just like Stick...

First of all, 'The Dragon and Her Boy' follows the same gutterling children as in 'Tiger Heart', which I haven't read (but now want to), but can also be read on its own. Apart from mentions of Fly, the protagonist from the previous book, there is nothing else needed to be propelled straight into Stick's adventure here. And what a fabulous adventure it is! Penny Chrimes has a wonderfully, distinctive storyteller voice, full of Victorian like words and turns of phrase. It's a delight to read and also hear aloud, as she read her extract to my school. There's a warm, classic feel to her writing: half fairy-tale, half gritty, grubby street realism, which is irresistible to read.

 

I love Stick and the gutterlings. They feel like unique, wholesome creations; feral but full of heart. I hope this is not last we hear about them. There's a promise of a story in each one of them. Stick's story is great. There are twists and turns, as the dragon weaves its way through the tunnels too. But, ultimately, this is a good old fashioned story about good versus evil, kindness to others and to creatures versus horrendous cruelty and greed. This is about what true friendship and bravery truly means. The ending for Stick is pure magic. I loved it!

I will have to find time to read 'Tiger Heart' but in the meantime I will be sharing my thoughts with my class and my school. Thank you Penny Chrimes for a lovely message to my school and for a brilliant book to share with them. Now, time for a crumpet...

https://www.waterstones.com/book/the-dragon-and-her-boy/penny-chrimes/9781510107120

© 2021 by Chris Soul