Regarded as one of Grahame’s most distinguished short stories, the children’s classic was first published in 1898 and featured in Dream Days, a reminiscent short story collection for children, and has also been adapted into a feature film from Walt Disney Productions. The story centers on the events following the discovery of a dragon living inside a cave near a small town, which its residents perceive as dangerous and a threat to their safety, whereas as a young boy goes out of his way to prove the dragon’s harmless nature. Offering a positive glimpse of compassion, loyalty, and friendship, the classic serves as an early instance of a tale in which a dragon is presented in a good light, far from its previous stereotypical depiction as a menacing beast.
The story sets into motion when a young shepherd boy discovers a dragon residing in a cave near his family home and village. Having read many stories concerning dragons, the young boy has adopted an open-minded attitude toward the feared creature, and quickly befriends the dragon. Moreover, the dragon demonstrates a love for poetry which confirms his intelligence and civility, and also gives an account of his life. However, the townspeople soon learn of the dragon’s dwelling and things quickly escalate, as they perceive him as a danger to them all and a problem that needs to be dealt with accordingly. Although the young boy welcomes him with open arms, the townspeople, on the other hand, are not convinced of its harmless intentions and unanimously agree that the beast should be vanquished. Subsequently, St. George arrives and is appointed the task of ridding the town of its unwelcome guest. So, St. George, the dragon, and the shepherd boy are thrown into a thrilling predicament, as they must join forces and come up with a solution that will fulfill everyone’s wishes.
Containing all the vital elements to stir a child’s imagination including absorbing characters, an exciting plot, humor, rich descriptions, and delightful twists, The Reluctant Dragon is a gripping tale ideal for children in search of excitement, as well as for older readers who wish to take a trip down memory lane.