“Relatable, helpful, and enjoyable—a book for anyone ever touched by fear or worry . . . in other words, everyone.”
As a little boy blissfully walks along, dump truck in tow, he’s startled by the sudden appearance of dragons—they “show up when you least expect them.” Ben tries to ignore them and pretends that they aren’t actually dragons, but neither method helps and they loom large in his life, taking up as much mental and emotional space as one would expect a dragon to physically take. It’s not until Ben gains some experience and discovers some ways to cope (which he willingly shares with others) that he discovers the most important thing—dragon’s won’t stick around forever. Equal parts fun and deep, You’ve Got Dragons is a wonderfully approachable way to start a discussion with children (or quite frankly, adults) about anxiety, fear, and hardships, and is a fairly enjoyable story in its own right, even without the layer of emotional coaching. Cave’s description of the feelings and physical symptoms associated with fear and anxiety (turning hot and cold, shaking, tummy hurting, etc.) are relatable and poignant and the practical advice Ben shares with his fellows besieged by dragons is attainable and actionable (acknowledge them, tell them jokes, etc.). Maland’s soft, cross-hatched illustrations have a classic and timeless feel to them that adds to the story’s charm and—especially—humor.
Worries, fears, and anxieties are all dragons that sneak up on most of us at one time or another.
Lots of people get dragons. Even really really good people get them. And sometimes they are hard to get rid of. So what can a young boy with a bad case of the dragons do? He can pretend they are not there, or that they are really quite harmless. Hugs from his mom help. Looking his dragon straight in the eye at least once every day helps even more. But most reassuring of all is the reminder that dragons don’t stay forever.
Kathryn Cave’s lighthearted writing style and illustrator Nick Maland’s appealing pen-and-ink drawings exaggerate the humor of the text without minimizing the seriousness of the underlying themes. It is the perfect read-aloud story for young children whose fears can sometimes get the better of them.
Really amazing illustrations and character design!
This felt in a similar style to me as “What Do You Do With a Problem?” and does a great job of expressing and visualizing worry and anxiety in a way that improves one’s ability to cope.
Kathryn Cave is the author of many books for children, including Henry Hobbs, You’ve Got Dragons, and Many Happy Returns, which was named one of the best books of the year in 1986 by the Federation of Children’s Book Groups. Her book Something Else was the recipient of the UNESCO Award in 1997 and was shortlisted for the Smarties Prize and the Kate Greenaway Award. She lives in England.
Nick Maland is the illustrator of numerous books for children. He has collaborated with author Kathryn Cave on four books: You’ve Got Dragons, The Brave Little Grork, Friends, and The Boy Who Became an Eagle. He lives in England. He has recently illustrated Mr Tiger, Betsy and the Blue Moon written by Sally Gardner and published by Penguin Workshop.
For John S. and Ari B.