David, a student, takes lodgings in the Pennykettle household, looked after by Liz, single mother of 10-year-old Lucy. Mother and daughter treat him in a very natural way as one of the family, but keep from him the secret of the dragons whose pottery images are all round the house. Lucy is concerned about the loss of the local squirrels, caused in part by the their neighbour Mr Bacon, who cut down a large oak tree. David helps her try to find one squirrel in particular, who is blind in one eye and therefore more vulnerable, and writes her a story for her birthday concerning the squirrels. Slowly, David comes to realise that there is something more than a little dragonish about Liz and Lucy themselves.
This book has a very lightweight, humorous and natural touch. The reader believes quite as readily in Lucy’s easy acceptance of their new lodger as in Liz’s motherly attitude towards him. While the story of the squirrels forms a natural foreground to a child-helps-nature story, the slight mystery of the dragons is left carefully unexplored, adding flavour without intruding on the main storyline.
Tim Golden is a computer programmer in London. He is also the editor of the Good-to-Read website.