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Dragon Boy (novel) facts for kids

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Dragon Boy
First edition
Author Dick King-Smith
CoverĀ artist Jocelyn Wild
Language English
Publisher Viking Press
Publication date

Dragon Boy is a children's novel by British author Dick King-Smith, first published in 1993. The novel is about John, a young orphan in the Middle Ages who is adopted by dragons.

Dragon Boy appears on numerous school reading lists and is taught in schools. It has been used as one of the practice texts for the English Common Entrance Examination for year 6 students to move to senior school.

Plot summary

Montague Bunsen-Burner is a dragon who is put on a 'no-humans' diet by his wife Albertina. Out on a flight later that day, Montague discovers a young boy, John, who was recently orphaned. Montague decides to take the boy home with him. John proves his worth as a member of the family with his knowledge of various forest herbs that enhance the flavour of several foods.

John proves his value to the family further when Albertina lays her latest clutch of eggs. Deducing that Montague and Albertina are ignorant of the need to incubate eggs, John manages to smuggle an egg away from Albertina's latest clutch and place it in a 'nest' made of reeds, inspired by a lizard nest he saw when he was younger, that will keep it warm until it hatches (taking only one egg in secret in case he is wrong about how dragon eggs develop). While returning from hiding the egg, John is nearly attacked by a wolf, and later a bear, but Montague manages to save him and kill both animals, the bearskin being kept for John to sleep under in winter.

Noting that the wolf is milky, John deduces that she has cubs, setting out to find her family. Although three of the cubs are dead when he finds her den, John takes in the fourth cub (a coal-black male), naming him 'Bart' (after Montague's father) and training him as a pet. After John and Bart have kept an eye on the egg in its makeshift 'nest' for the next six weeks, it finally hatches, revealing a young female dragon who names herself 'Lucky', much to the joy of her parents. From this point onwards, John is regularly described as the Bunsen-Burner's adopted son and Lucky's 'little brother'. Although John attracts some quizzical gazes when an elderly dragon Examiner comes to test Lucky's flying abilities, no definite questions are asked, and Lucky herself passes her test with flying colours.

While the dragons take a holiday at the beach where Montague and Albertina stayed after their wedding, shortly after Lucky's first birthday, John and Bart are confronted by wolves, being cornered in the cave before they are forced to attack. However, Lucky senses that her brother is in danger and returns to save him, although the subsequent damage to John's clothes forces them to travel to a nearby village to steal replacement clothes for him. During their time away, the Bunsen-Burners are briefly attacked by a group of ambitious knights, but the dragons easily drive them away without any casualties (Albertina resolutely informing Montague that their relationship with John means that they must never eat human flesh again after everything he has come to mean to them).

As Lucky grows older, the comparative rarity of dragons in the present compared to their old courting days prompt Montague and Albertina to try to search for a potential husband for her in an arranged marriage, but their search fails; Albertina is harshly turned away by the head of a family of Welsh dragons, and while Montague discovers a pleasant family- the Charmouths-, they have nothing but daughters. Fortunately, while visiting the holiday beach in a bad mood about her parents' attempt to plan her life for her, Lucky discovers a boy dragon called Gerald Fire-Drake, who left his home in Scotland after an argument with his father, the two forming a deep attachment that blossoms into romance. During this time, John has a brief encounter with an outlaw who threatens to kill him, but Bart senses his master's peril and hurries to save him, Bart's attack- followed closely by the arrival of Albertina- prompting the outlaw to flee while leaving John his weapons.

After an engagement of a couple of years due to Gerald and Lucky's youth, their wedding takes place near the lake where Lucky hatched, attended by the Fire-Drakes, Albertina's cousins, Montague's brother and his wife, the Examiner who gave Lucky her test, and the Charmouths (Montague reasoning that they are a pleasant family and Gerald's brothers might be interested). The ceremony completed after John gives a speech in his role as best man, Gerald and Lucky fly off for their honeymoon, leaving John to reflect on the joys of his life as a dragon boy.

Allusion to legend

In the latter chapters of the novel, John reveals that his surname is Little, Lucky reflecting that she always thought of him as 'Little John'. The novel notes that 'Little John' will grow into a giant of a man and the strongest man in England, hinting that he is the 'Little John' from the myth of Robin Hood.

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