John McLay, Dragon’s Dentist

Orion, 2014, ISBN 978-1-4440-1104-3

Harry’s family are all knights, but he is not even a knight-in-waiting. He decides to prove he has the requisite prowess, and with his horse Oats he sets off to capture Eric, a huge and fearsome dragon. When they finally find him, Oats faints in terror. Harry is scared too but knows he must be brave. Eric’s guffaw at the notion of Harry capturing him exacerbates his terrible toothache. Oats and Harry pull out his rotten tooth, and in gratitude Eric flies them home on his back. Harry receives a hero’s welcome and becomes number one on the list of knights-in-waiting.

This is an engaging and amusing story, with copious very fetching illustrations by Martin Brown, who is well known for his Horrible Histories artwork. The book is one of the Orion Early Readers, designed as ‘stepping stones between picture books and reading books’. While the notion that a picture book is not a reading book is a troubling one, the book and the series certainly have considerable value. The text is very accessible: the font is large and clear; the sentences are short with simple vocabulary, and there are only two or three on each page; the chapters are brief. Children in the early stages of reading will get a lot of enjoyment from The Dragon’s Dentist, and a justifiable sense of pride that they have read a chapter book. Well worth a place in the infant classroom and library.