Cover image for The reluctant dragon
The reluctant dragon
San Souci, Robert D.
Personal Author:
First Scholastic edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Orchard Books, 2004.
Physical Description:
39 pages : color illustrations ; 31 cm
The boy who finds the dragon in the cave knows it is a kindly, harmless one, but how can he convince the frightened villagers and, especially, St. George the dragon killer that there is no cause for concern?
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 4.9 0.5 77208.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
J FICTION Juvenile Fiction Central Closed Stacks
J FICTION Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
J FICTION Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
J FICTION Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
J FICTION Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



San Souci and Segal pair up in this clever, funny retelling of Kenneth Grahame's THE RELUCTANT DRAGON which includes miniature illustrations throughout.

When Jack's father discovers a fire-breathing dragon living close to home, Jack tells everyone not to worry -- he has read a lot about dragons. The next day, Jack meets him and learns that he is poet who would rather write than fight knights and breathe fire. Soon Jack and the dragon are sharing poetry and singing songs, but Jack can't keep him a secret for long. One day, Saint George rides into town to slay the beast, but the dragon refuses to take part in something so uncivilized. So with the help of Jack, they agree to stage a mock battle which turns out to be a hit.

Author Notes

Robert D. San Souci was born on October 10, 1946 in San Francisco, California. He attended college at St. Mary's College in Moraga. After holding jobs in book stores and in publishing, he became a full-time author in 1974.

He was best known for his adaptations of folklore for children. During his lifetime, he wrote more than 100 books for young readers including Song of Sedna, Kate Shelley: Bound for Legend, The Talking Eggs, Two Bear Cubs, Cendrillon: A Caribbean Cinderella, Brave Margaret: An Irish Tale, Robin Hood and the Golden Arrow, and Cinderella Skeleton. He wrote 12 books which were illustrated by his younger brother Daniel San Souci including The Legend of Scarface, Sister Tricksters: Rollicking Tales of Clever Females, and As Luck Would Have It: From The Brothers Grimm. He also wrote nonfiction works for children, several novels for adults, and the film story for Disney's Mulan.

The Legend of Scarface won the Notable Children's Trade Book in the Social Studies, National Council for the Social Studies, and was a Horn Book honor list citation. Sukey and the Mermaid won the American Library Association's Notable Book citation in 1992 and Cut from the Same Cloth won an Aesop Award from the Children's Folklore Section of the American Folklore Society. He died on December 19, 2014 at the age of 68.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

For this elegantly designed volume, San Souci (The Talking Eggs) breathes new life into the sword-and-scales genre with a snappy adaptation of Kenneth Grahame's 1898 short story. The book stars a most unusual dragon who prefers poetry, pacifism and singalongs to murderous pillaging and destruction ("I'm too lazy to make enemies"). Jack, a shepherd's son, befriends the dragon, but his fellow villagers see the fiery beast as "an enemy of the human race" and call in Saint George. Smart-thinking Jack convinces George to talk to his friend, and together they concoct a scheme to stage a battle so the dragon can be saved. The faux fight is deliciously scary ("The dragon, enjoying the drama, reared and roared and rampaged"), but young fantasy fans will enjoy both the ruse and the happily-ever-after resolution. Matching the text's dynamism, Segal's (The Musicians of Bremen) illustrations seem a happy cross between medieval manuscripts and comic book panels. Narrow rules frame each page, accentuating the oversize vertical format, while Segal's small, cartoon-like illustrations captioned with phrases from the text float in a sizable white background. The less-is-more sensibility of the design offsets the somewhat insistent message about looking beyond appearances and overcoming prejudice. San Souci's fluid storytelling gives the story a modern feel, and Jack's peaceful problem-solving sets a winning example. Ages 5-9. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 3-5-This now-classic tale was originally published in 1898 as part of Kenneth Grahame's semiautobiographical short story collection, "Dream Days." A shepherd discovers a dragon living in a cave. His son knows from his reading of natural history and fairy tales that some dragons are reasonable and nonthreatening. He approaches the creature, who proves to be a gentle, noncombative sort. The villagers, however, see him as a menace, and St. George is sent for. The boy is able to convince him that this is a good dragon, and the three devise a plan that will give everyone a fine show and allow the dragon to stay on in the village, writing poetry and singing. San Souci's abridgment has the usual gains and losses of such a process. Much of Grahame's wit and unique style have gone by the wayside, but the text is more accessible to a modern audience. The message of compassion, loyalty, and friendship still shines through. Segal's pastel illustrations, frequently set in miniature boxes in a vertical line, sometimes ignore descriptions as provided by the text. The dragon has "blue scales on top and green below." Segal's dragon is green on top, yellow below and without a scale to be seen. The pictures are captioned with an odd mix of print and script that will be difficult for children to decipher. Libraries owning the original text with illustrations by either Ernest H. Shepard or Michael Hague may consider this version an additional purchase.-Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.