Fergal is worried. We can see this as we peer through a gap in the trees. Why? He is about to to Dragon Camp – his first stay away from home. How will he get on? Will the other little dragons like him? Perhaps he needs to impress them and show them how brilliant he is as everything. This sounds like a really good plan – or is it?
Starling brings his story – a familiar one – to life through his engaging, uncluttered, colourful illustrations. The text, an attractive accessible font, is neatly placed on each page. Even when the background is not white it is a pleasant pastel that ensures the words are clear and easy to read. Mixing expansive double page spreads which set the scene with snapshot vignettes brings movement and interest; this is furthered by the speech bubbles which introduce then element of dialogue – necessary since we see everything from the point of view of Fergal. Though the characters are all presented as little dragons, they are really children and we are really facing that step into ‘big’ school. Young readers will recognise both the situations facing Fergal and appreciate his reactions. Inevitably there is a lesson to be taught and a hint of didacticism enters the story. However, Fergal is a charmingly cheeky little boy in the guise of a little dragon who is able to take the advice that brings the story to a satisfying happy ending.
This is an enjoyable story presented with humour and a light touch admirably captured by the assured illustrations and supported by excellent book design. From the cut-out in the cover allowing us to meet Fergal before the story opens to the satisfied little dragon with his marshmallow as we close the book the reader is carried seamlessly through from beginning to end. I am sure that this will not be the last time we meet Fergal and his classmates, and I expect he will become a familiar character at many a story time.