Cover image for The dragon's boy
The dragon's boy
Yolen, Jane.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Harper & Row, [1990]

Physical Description:
120 pages ; 22 cm
Young Arthur meets a dragon and comes to accept him as a friend and mentor.
Reading Level:
970 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 5.8 3.0 6666.

Reading Counts RC 6-8 5.9 6 Quiz: 03302 Guided reading level: NR.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
FICTION Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



"In order to gain wisdom, you must learn to read inter linea, between the lines."

Artos doesn't know who his parents are, just that kindly Sir Ector and Lady Marion took him into their castle when he was a baby. Though Sir Ector raises him as one of his sons, Artos never feels he truly belongs. The other boys of the castle -- Cai, Bedvere, and Lancot -- make fun of him and never invite him to join in their games.

One day, while searching for Sir Ector's missing brachet hound in the fens around the castle, Artos stumbles across a musty cave in a hill where a very old dragon lives. Though he is afraid, he is drawn to the beast by both the dragon's knowledge and his promise to teach Artos the game of wisdom. With the dragon's guidance, Artos begins the slow journey to his destiny-one that he never dreamed could belong to him.

Notable 1990 Children's Trade Books in Social Studies (NCSS/CBC)

Author Notes

Jane Yolen was born February 11, 1939 in New York City. She received a bachelor's degree from Smith College in 1960 and a master's degree in education from the University of Massachusetts in 1976. After college, she became an editor in New York City and wrote during her lunch break. She sold her first children's book, Pirates in Petticoats, at the age of 22. Since then, she has written over 300 books for children, young adults, and adults.

Her other works include the Emperor and the Kite, Owl Moon, How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? and The Devil's Arithmetic. She has won numerous awards including the Kerlan Award, the Regina Medal, the Keene State Children's Literature Award, the Caldecott Medal, two Nebula Awards, two Christopher Medals, the World Fantasy Award, three Mythopoeic Fantasy Awards, the Golden Kite Award, the Jewish Book Award, the World Fantasy Association's Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Association of Jewish Libraries Award.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Gr. 5-7. In this retelling of Arthur's boyhood, Yolen plays an imaginative game of hide-and-seek with the elements of Arthurian legend. Young Artos, kennel boy to Sir Ector, stumbles one day onto a secret cave from which issues the voice of a wise, if cranky, old dragon. At the dragon's command, Artos comes back daily bearing stew, for which the dragon pays him with wisdom, stories, and the occasional book or jewel. On returning to the cave after a long absence, Artos rushes inside to help the weakened dragon and is shocked to discover the voice comes not from a dragon at all, but from Old Linn, the apothecary, otherwise known as Merlinnus. He informs Artos that the boy is indeed the dragon's son--Arthur Pendragon--and the two leave the cave in pursuit of Artos' destiny. Those in the know will have fun in recognizing names and events under their altered form. Artos buys his first sword with the dragon's gift of a ruby. "A sword from a stone," comments one character. Such subtlety, however, may puzzle those who come to the book without prior knowledge of the legends. Yolen's Artos is attractively vulnerable, and his encounters with the dragon are marked by humor and suspense. Yet one problem with the book is that the dragon's wisdom is more asserted than shown. Except for a scene in which the dragon teaches Artos a shell game, the reader learns little of what the dragon says to spur Artos' growth in character, hence the changes seem somewhat unmotivated. The book is nonetheless an entrancing addition to the Arthurian canon and bound to please its many fans. ~--Leone McDermott

School Library Journal Review

A good introduction to Arthurian legend, this is a retelling of the education and coming of age of 13-year-old Artos (Arthur). Old Linn (Merlin) is to be his teacher, but, doubting he can command the boy's attention, he constructs a fire-breathing dragon as a facade. Behind this imposing apparition, he impresses Artos into becoming his student. However, when Artos discovers the dragon's true identity, he becomes angry. When Old Linn explains Artos' lineage and hints that his destiny is to be a leader of men, the boy reconsiders their relationship. Basing the story on recognized Arthurian scholarship, Yolen skillfully develops those aspects of Artos' character that will guide him in his adult life--courage, compassion, and fairness. The book serves as a foundation for further reading of Arthurian tales. Some of the vocabulary and references to Celtic folklore may be unfamiliar to readers, but these add authenticity and richness without detracting from the enjoyment of the story. --Virginia Golodetz, St. Michael's College, Winooski, VT (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.