7 sizzling books about dragons

Published on: 07 May 2024

Ember Spark and the Thunder of Dragons author Abi Elphinstone recommends stories about a favourite fantastical creature.

A photo of Abi Elphinstone and the front cover of Ember Spark and the Thunder of Dragons

In my novel Ember Spark and The Thunder of Dragons, Ember Spark and Arno Whisper are Apprentice Vets to Magical Beasts. They learn about all sorts of fantastical creatures: a unicorn fond of meringues; a hippogriff living in Big Ben; a pod of neverwhales who spray diamonds from their blowholes.

But it's the dragons who play the biggest part in Ember and Arno's first adventure – from the tiny silver one called Smidge, who's lost her parents, to the enormous one dying of a broken heart.

Here are some of my favourite dragons in children's books...

The front covers of Billy and the Dragon, Impossible Creatures, and Tell Me a Dragon

1. Billy and The Dragon by Nadia Shireen

While tucking into a sticky bun, Fatcat is snatched by a dragon. Billy, who keeps useful things like telescopes in her hair, spies Fatcat and embarks upon a quest to get him back. The story includes two dragons, a fox fond of trifle, and an informative worm; it is impossible to read it without chuckling.

2. Impossible Creatures by Katherine Rundell

In this brilliant fantasy book, there is a jaculus – a tree-dragon. He is small and fierce and desperate for someone to write his biography. He also has some of the best one-liners in the story: '...it is my bounden right and duty, now, to eat you. It was courteous of you to come ready-washed.'

3. Tell Me a Dragon by Jackie Morris

I tried to draw a dragon the other day; it looked like a drunk Labrador. Jackie Morris' dragons, however, are startlingly realistic. Her illustrations force your eyes wide open then make you stare. In this book, Jackie imagines there is a different type of dragon for every child in the world. My favourite is her ice dragon. He looks wise and kind and utterly unfussed about brushing his hair.

The front covers of Once Upon a Dragon's Fire, The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart, The Boy Who Grew Dragons, and Dragon Mountain

4. The Dragon With a Chocolate Heart by Stephanie Burgis

A dragon called Aventurine drinks an enchanted hot chocolate and finds herself transformed into a puny human girl. Aventurine seeks out an apprenticeship in a chocolate house and whilst bringing havoc to the human city, she also finds friendship there. A fabulous dragon adventure told with tenderness and wit.

5. Once Upon a Dragon's Fire by Beatrice Blue

Two children, Freya and Sylas, journey into a deep, dark cave to rid the kingdom of a dragon rumoured to eat kittens and blow terrible storms from his jaws. But the dragon Freya and Sylas encounter is unexpectedly lovely. And he likes stories – only the ones he hears claim dragons are nasty. Freya and Sylas invent a new tale: a story that champions kindness and results in a remarkable act of courage.

6. The Boy Who Grew Dragons by Andy Shepherd

Tomas makes an extraordinary discovery: there is a tree growing dragons at the bottom of his grandad's garden. To Tomas' delight, one of the dragons becomes his pet, but when Tomas finds his toothbrush on fire and his pants hanging from the TV aerial, he realises having a dragon for a pet is no easy task. Anarchic, funny and packed with joy. My kids adore this series.

7. Dragon Mountain by Katie and Kevin Tsang

A quartet of kids – Billy, Dylan, Charlotte and Ling-Fei – stumble across an age-old secret on their summer camp: four powerful warrior dragons lie hidden deep within the mountain behind the camp. With bucketloads of humour, pace and magic, this is a soaring, sizzling, fire-breathing gem of an adventure story.

Ember Spark and The Thunder of Dragons by Abi Elphinstone is out now.

Topics: Fantasy, Features

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