Inside the Dragon’s Den: Dangerous and Delightful Tails

Selected and annotated by Alice Mitchell
July 2015

From Saint George and his dragon to the wyrm wrapped around Yggdrasil, humans have been fascinated by dragons since the dawn of time.  Whether they are good or evil, as complicated as humans or capable of turning into humans, dragons ignite the imagination.  Check out any of these books for dragon tales and dragon slayers.


Barnhill, KellyIron Hearted Violet; illus. by Iacopo Bruno. Little, 2012. 424p. Gr. 4–7.
Year ago, Princess Violet accidentally awoke the evil Thirteenth God by inviting him into her world through a deal in a moment of adolescent weakness. When Violet realizes she invited chaos and evil into her kingdom, she joins with fey folk, a stable boy, and an old dragon to fix her mistake and save the world.

Breslin , Theresa , adThe Dragon Stoorworm; illus. by Matthew Land. Kelpies/Floris, 2014. 24p. 6-9 yrs.
In this adaptation of a traditional Scottish folktale, true love conquers the threat of a dragon. Princess Gemdelovely’s father has made a decree saying that she can only get married when her suitor manages to kill the Dragon Stoorworm.  When she falls in love, Gemdelovely herself pitches in to accomplish this impossible task.

Carey, Janet LeeDragonswood. Dial, 2012. 403p. Gr. 7-10.
Tess’ attraction to the nearby magical wood gained her the unwanted attention of her neighbors, who now accuse her of witchcraft.  She flees from the accusation and her abusive stepfather with her two friends, also accused of being witches, and they find shelter with a mysterious huntsman.  Tess runs again towards the irresistible call of the forest in the north, where she learns of her heritage as the daughter of a fairy king and her destiny to unite humans, fey, and dragons.

Crum, ShuttaThomas and the Dragon Queen; illus. by Lee Wildish. Knopf, 2010. 267p. Gr. 3-5.
Short Thomas has dreams to become a knight, and he’s well on his way when his patience, courage, and kindness catch the attention of a traveling knight who takes Thomas on as his apprentice. With a new knighthood, a small sword, and a donkey, Thomas goes off on his first quest: to save a kidnapped princess from a dragon.

de la Cruz, MelissaFrozen; by Melissa de la Cruz and Michael Johnston. Putnam, 2013. 325p. Gr. 7-10.
Natasha deals blackjack in New Vegas while hiding the Mark that indicates her power as a magic-wielder.  A voice in her head insists she find her way to the Blue, a mythical paradise of magical creatures, full of life compared to the frozen wasteland she now lives in.  She hires a former soldier and his mercenaries to take her through Garbage Country to the rumored location of a door to the Blue.

Ellis, M. HendersonPetra K and the Blackhearts. Young Europe, 2014. 195p. Gr. 5-8.
Bullied and neglected, Petra K finds comfort in Pava, where magic is practiced openly and miniature dragons run wild.  Having outlawed magic in Pava, dictator Archibald the Precious ordered his guards to collect all the dragons.  When Petra K finds an injured dragon and nurses it back to health, her mother turns her in to the police, prompting Petra K to join the Blackheart revolutionaries when she escapes.

Goodman, AlisonEona: The Last Dragoneye. Viking, 2011. 637p. Gr. 7-10.
In the sequel to Eon, Eona continues to explore her rare ability to communicate with dragons, but she is having problems controlling her strong powers.  Dragons mourning their murdered human counterparts threaten the kingdom and its people, along with disputes over possession of the throne.

Gravett, Emily. Again!; written and illus. by Emily Gravett. Simon, 2013. 28p. 4-6 yrs.
A little dragon keeps saying “Again!” asking for his favorite story about a dragon searching the skies at night before grabbing a princess to make into a pie.  With ever re-reading, the story gets shorter, and the little dragon’s storyteller gets more exhausted and falls asleep, much to the little dragon’s annoyance.

Hahn, RebeccaA Creature of Moonlight. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014. 313p. Gr. 8-10.
The daughter of a disgraced princess and a dragon, Marni lives with her grandfather in relative safety at the edge of the living woods.  The woods keep encroaching on the kingdom, putting the king, Marni’s uncle and the man who murdered her mother, under more pressure.  When Marni’s Gramps dies, she chooses to go to court with her remaining family, but feels drawn to the woods and her father.

Hartman, RachelSeraphina. Random House, 2012. 464p. Gr. 7-10.
In Seraphina’s world, dragons and humans have been fighting for ages, but they now have a tenuous truce.  Seraphina’s mother was a dragon in human form, making Seraphina’s own existence as half-dragon/half-human impossible according to the rest of her dragon-hating society.  Just as Seraphina adjusts to life as a musician at court while hiding her scaly secret, a new dragon is threatening the city.

Haskell, MerrieHandbook for Dragon Slayers. Harper/HarperCollins, 2013. 324p. Gr. 5-7.
Princess Mathilda hates being a princess, and hates the disgusted stares of her subjects at her disfigured foot.  Tilda would rather write and copy texts.  After her friend Parz and handmaiden Judith rescue Tilda from a kidnapping attempt, they decide to become dragon slayers, each for their own reasons.  Their new journey runs into problems when they encounter the Wild Hunt, with an evil lord and lots of dragons.

Howell, TroyThe Dragon of Cripple Creek. Amulet/Abrams, 2011. 385p. Gr. 5-7.
Gold-loving Kat has talked her father into stopping for a tour of an actual mine while driving to a new town for her father’s new job.  Instead of finding a stray piece of gold, she comes across a dragon – possibly the last dragon – who informs her that gold is actually made of dead dragons and that humans are not as long-lived as they think.

Johnston, E.K. Prairie Fire. Carolrhoda Lab, 2015. 295p. Gr. 8-10.
After a heroic mission at the end of The Story of Owen, dragon-slayer Owen and his bard Siobhan go into military training to continue the fight against the carbon-devouring dragons destroying their land.  In addition to battling more dragons, they fight an internal battle as they deal with emotional turmoil they can’t quite handle.

Johnston, E.K. The Story of Owen: Dragon Slayer of Trondheim. Carolrhoda Lab, 2014. 302. Gr. 8-10.
In rural Canada, Owen trains to be a dragon slayer with his very own bard, Siobhan.  It’s important to kill dragons quickly and correctly – they have an insatiable appetite for fossil fuels around which major cities and companies are built, and killing a dragon incorrectly will release a poison that creates deserts that last thousands of years.  Even more dire is the fact that they seem to be reproducing faster than slayers can kill them, making slayers all the more important.

Joosse, BarbaraLovabye Dragon; illus. by Randy Cecil. Candlewick, 2012. 32p. 4-7 yrs.
While a little girl grieves because she doesn’t have a dragon for a friend, a dragon is sad and dreams of a girl for a friend.  The little girl cries dragon-yearning tears that turn into a river and trickles past the dragon’s cave, leading the dragon right to her.  Now neither of them has to be alone.

Knudsen, MichelleArgus; illus. by Andréa Wesson. Candlewick, 2011. 32p. 5-8 yrs.
Sally’s class is hatching chicks, but Sally’s oversized, polka-dotted egg stands out from her classmates’ eggs.  When the unusual scaly newborn emerges, Sally tries to make sure her chick behaves…and doesn’t eat the students.  She is shocked and alarmed one day to find that her chick, Argus, has gone missing!

Kraegel, KennethKing Arthur’s Very Great Grandson; written and illus. by Kenneth Kraegel. Candlewick, 2012. 34p. 5-8 yrs.
Six-year-old Henry Alfred Grummorson is the many-greats grandson of King Arthur and, in keeping with his heritage, he saddles up his donkey and rides off to face the local dragon.  The dragon’s smoke rings are impressive, but Henry wants a proper fight.  The dragon recommends the Cyclops, who is equally unimpressive, as are the griffin and leviathan.  Henry might not have had a successful first quest, but he’s pleased with his new friends nonetheless.

Lairamore, DawnIvy’s Ever After. Holiday House, 2010. 311p. Gr. 4-6.
Princess Ivy essentially has the run of the castle, ignoring everything proper that princesses are taught to do.  She’s enjoying life until her fourteenth birthday when, by tradition, she is imprisoned in a tower with a guard dragon and forced to wait for a knight to rescue her.  Her knight is not to her liking, so she teams up with her guardian dragon to save herself, the dragons, and her kingdom.

Light, SteveHave You Seen My Dragon?; written and illus. by Steve Light. Candlewick, 2014. 46p. 3-7 yrs.
A young boy has lost his dragon in the big city and goes on a journey to find him.  Maybe he went to the harbor for a swim, or the zoo to visit the monkeys.  Though he doesn’t see his dragon, the boy counts important parts of the city along the way until he finally comes to a temple in Chinatown and discovers his dragon, right where he left him.

Martin , George R. RThe Ice Dragon; illus. by Luis Royo. Tor Teen, 2014. 120p. Gr. 5-8.
Adara hasn’t cried much for a seven-year-old, or shown much emotion whatsoever.  Any affection she has goes towards various winter creatures that come when it snows, and her family distances themselves from her as a result.  When a rare ice dragon arrives, Adara tames and rides it – a feat the king’s most experienced riders wouldn’t be able to do.  When war approaches, Adara and her dragon have to find a way to defend her family.

McCune, JoshuaTalker 25. Greenwillow, 2014. 424p. Gr. 9-12.
Fifteen years after the first dragon appearances, people finally have the strength to defeat them.  Melissa, whose mother was killed by dragons, understands how dangerous dragons are and acknowledges that there’s much they still don’t know.  She is kidnapped (or rescued) by pro-dragon resistance forces, then again by a military group who force her to use her telepathic connections with dragons to draw them out.

Pratchett, TerryDragons at Crumbling Castle and Other Tales; illus. by Mark Beech. Clarion, 2015. 337p. Gr. 4-6.
In “Dragons at Crumbling Castle,” one of fourteen short stories in the collection, King Arthur is casually enjoying his breakfast when the town criers enter his room and declare that Crumbling Castle has been invaded.  Young Ralph is the only volunteer for the job, so now it’s up to him to go kill a few dragons.  In addition to this scaly story, readers can enjoy Pratchett’s original short story version of “The Carpet People,” and visit a variety of monsters and creatures.

Reeve, PhilipNo Such Thing as Dragons; written and illus. by Philip Reeve. Scholastic, 2010. 186p. Gr. 4-6.
Ansel’s father wastes no time selling him off to famous dragon slayer Johannes Brock when the man comes through the village looking for a servant.  It turns out Brock needs Ansel because of, not in spite of, his muteness, as Brock is actually a conman who insists that dragons don’t actually exist.  They might have bitten off more than they can chew when Ansel and Brock encounter a vicious reptilian creature threatening a village that can only be described as a dragon.

Vaughn, CarrieVoices of Dragons. HarperTeen, 2010. 309p. Gr. 7-10.
Dragons and humans have had an uneasy ceasefire ever since the end of World War II, when atomic weapons drew dragons out of their hidden strongholds.  Kay lives on the border between the modern U.S. and the land ruled by dragons.  She finds herself facing an adolescent dragon, Artegal, after a hiking accident leaves her across the border.  They become friends, but perceived threats push leaders of both worlds closer to war.

Wojtowycz, DavidElephant Joe, Brave Knight!; written and illus. by David Wojtowycz. Random House, 2012. 32p. 4-7 yrs.
Elephant Joe and Zebra Pete go on a quest to reclaim the King’s crown stolen by the Dark Knight.  They arrive at the Dark Knight’s lair in the Enchanted Forest where they are greeted by a fierce, fire-breathing dragon!  Zebra Pete jousts with the dragon, which only serves to tickle the dragon, before using the magic word (“Please?”) to get past the fierce creature and enter the tower to reclaim the crown.

Yep , Laurence. A Dragon’s Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans; by Laurence Yep and Joanne Ryder; illus. by Mary GrandPré. Crown, 2015. 152p. Gr. 2-4.
Miss Drake is unsure about the granddaughter of her former pet human, who recently died.  The granddaughter, Winnie, accidentally uses her creative skills to unleash a flurry of furry creatures on California via her magical sketchbook, forcing Winnie and Miss Drake to work together and save the city, possibly becoming friends in the process.