cover image Ellie’s Dragon

Ellie’s Dragon

Bob Graham. Candlewick, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-5362-1113-9

In Graham’s (The Underhills: A Tooth Fairy Story) tender portrait of childhood, when young Ellie finds a rainbow-colored dragon hatchling in the supermarket’s egg case, she names the tiny critter Scratch and sets him up cozily in her dollhouse at home. Though Ellie’s mother and other adults can’t see Scratch, he makes quite an impression on young neighbors and classmates—in one memorable scene, Scratch draws interest from every child on a street. As time passes, the two grow more independent: Scratch still tags along on Ellie’s weekend outings with her father, but Ellie heads to school alone, and Scratch learns how to fly solo. When her 10th birthday comes along, “things were changing for Ellie and Scratch”—and soon, Scratch is a faint, translucent image in 13-year-old Ellie’s busy life. Graham’s elegant watercolor-and-ink illustrations capture snapshots of a child maturing in scenes of curly-headed, pale-skinned Ellie dancing with her sleepover guests, who also cuddle up with Scratch in their bed. Though the message is more likely to resonate with adults than with children, Graham elegantly conveys the way that Scratch, like childhood, slips “quietly away into the night.” Ages 3–7. [em](Nov.) [/em]