Disclaimer: The Dragonbreath series has nothing to do with Dragon’s Breath ice cream.
It’s not that easy to find a local author to support, but my son did it for me. Ursula Vernon is an author out of Pittsboro, which is a town not that far from here (Durham, NC) and a place I will drive to for their used book store (Circle City Books), donuts (Phoenix Bakery), and old time soda shop (S&T’s; especially while camping at Jordan Lake). My husband and I have also been there as guests of a bed and breakfast and back in the day when it was locally famous and existed, The General Store made a life-changing pulled pork sandwich and plenty of other hip and delicious things. Alas, no longer and I have become very distracted waxing poetic on small town life and pork…
Most people have not heard of the Dragonbreath series, yet most people could get their hands on them, even if they had to order them to their local bookshop or online. For one reason or another, this series is the first series my reluctant reader son has decided to read in its entirety, on his own. It does have a format similar to Captain Underpants and Diary of a Wimpy Kid, with its many comic-like, childlike illustrations. It is technically fantasy, with its dragons and other animal characters, though it is sort of like Wimpy Kid and fantasy had a baby, because Danny the dragon is just another school-age kid trying to fit in.
It’s tough being the only mythical creature in a school full of reptiles and amphibians. It’s also tough being a dragon who cannot breathe fire… not yet, anyhow. With his trusty friend Wendell the iguana, they embark on many adventures in these childhood stories, which include everything from sea serpents to ninja frogs to, well, a hot dog that creates werewolves. The point of all of this: laughter. I find the characters cute and the situations imaginative. I also am very happy that the illustrations are clean and don’t look like they were drawn by a child, but by an actual artist. My son finds them engaging and funny, keeping him turning the pages when so many other books would not. Danny’s not known for his intelligence or love of all things academic—that’s Wendell—but he’s brave and kind and a good character to come up along-side of, especially when you’re a kid who could use less school and more adventures. Perhaps it’s the creatures: my son loves creatures of all kinds. (Note: While my son is in middle school, this is a series more fitting for most elementary school-age kids. Because he is a reluctant reader, I have been advised to let him “read down” when he finds books he likes and then to celebrate the win.)
There are eleven books in this series, and I can’t help but wonder if Vernon meant to make it a round ten and also if she will continue adding to the series. Vernon has also written other books, including the newer Hamster Princess series (having something to do with Cinderella) and has won various awards for her books, including Dragonbreath. Her website can be found HERE.
The series is:
- Attack of the Ninja Frogs
- Curse of the Weir-wiener
- Lair of the Bat Monster
- No Such Thing as Ghosts
- Revenge of the Horned Bunnies
- When Fairies Go Bad
- Nightmare of the Iguana
- The Case of the Toxic Mutants
- The Frozen Menace
I have not read them all, but my son is almost done. If you have a child who likes books in the vein of Nate the Great, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Captain Underpants, Dog Man, etc., then these might be the next move. You could also use them to entice a reluctant reader who enjoys fantasy and/or creatures. Worked for us.