Ellie's dragon by Bob Graham
Walker Books, 2020. ISBN: 9781406387629.
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. Ellie finds a baby dragon in the egg carton at her supermarket. She calls him Scratch and installs him along with his box of dragon litter, in her doll's house.
Through the years of Ellie's growing up, through kindergarten and then school, right up into her post primary years, the dragon is there. Scratch goes with her to see her Dad, goes to school where he entertains the other children, curls up asleep in Ellie's room. All of her friends can see the dragon but not her parents or the teachers. Ellie takes Scratch to kindergarten but not to school. Now that she is older she does not need Scratch nearly as much and misses his first flight. But he is always there in the corner of her room where she knows he will be. The older Ellie gets, the less visible the dragon becomes until one day in her teens she can see right through him, and that night he takes flight and does not return.
Even though she is older she spies him now and again and knows that he is with another child who needs his company, because she catches a glimpse of his tail or a wisp of his smoke over the fence.
This wonderful tale of growing up with a close friend will appeal to all ages. Everyone will remember the stages of their development and how they coped with each change. And to see Ellie change from a small child to a teenager, will heighten their recollections. Her development is put alongside the dragon's development from a baby dragon, through his learning to breath fire, to growing too big for the doll's house, and then learning to fly. Each stage of the dragon's development parallels Ellie's own stages of growth.
Ellie is lucky to have a companion such as Scratch, a warm hearted, affectionate friend to guide her through the wonders of growing up, and readers will recognise their own stages of growth and wonder at the dragon who grows up alongside Ellie.
Bob Graham's beautiful illustrative technique is used to perfection here. His use of quiet understated colours, his depiction of the ordinary, the everyday, all done with such attention to detail, impels the readers to look again at the things seen in their own neighbourhood with fresh eyes. I love the supermarket and the school bus, the people in the street with their prams and bikes, the picture theatre and the doll's house, all drawing the eyes in to wonder at the things we often see but again do not see. Graham evokes in us all a greater awareness of our domestic surroundings. Teacher's notes are available.
Themes: Imaginary friend, Humour, Friendship, Family, Growing up.