Today is my stop on the blog tour for this bubbly, bouncy new chapter book that’s perfect for dragon and dog lovers!
Book: Luma and the Pet Dragon by Leah Mohammed, illustrated by Loretta Schauer
Publication date: 3rd February 2022
Ownership: Review copy sent free of charge by Welbeck Children’s Books. All opinions my own.
Two warm and funny stories about Luma and her cheeky pet dragon – for readers aged 5+.
When Luma Dewan wakes up on the morning of her seventh birthday, she knows that today will be special. But she has no idea just how wonderful and extraordinary it will be.
For today is the day she will meet Timir – a real talking dragon. Or at least when Luma is around that’s what he is. When anyone else is there, he becomes an ordinary grey puppy with a fluffy tail, who loves chasing squirrels and bouncing on trampolines.
It’s a big secret to keep – and Luma’s clever cousin Arjun is soon suspicious of this peculiar puppy, who doesn’t quite behave like any other dog. Luckily Luma’s grandmother – Nani – is there to help, and to Luma’s surprise, Nani might just know a little dragon magic of her own . . .
This is a totally adorable read, with the perfect mix of humour and emotional moments that make chapter books such a delight. I always find writing reviews for chapter books a bit tricky, because they’re such magical little works of art that it never feels like I can do justice too; juggling engaging characters, recognisable messages and themes, jokes, illustrations and that pinch of something, all in such a short page count, is really a talent, and I’m in awe of those that can do it! Luma and the Pet Dragon is a great example of a book that crams all these things into two short stories, and pulls it all together into a joyful read. The illustrations work with it perfectly – Loretta Schauer’s work feels zingy and fun, and not only are her dogs and dragons cute, her people are too! I particularly enjoyed Luma’s lovely friendly design, and Timir’s expressive full-body sulks.
The highlight of these stories for me was Luma’s relationship with her Nani; I always enjoy a story where a grandparent turns out to be magical, because not only is it simply fun, it’s lovely to see non-nuclear family relationships in kids’ books. Nani offers nudges to Luma when she’s lost, but always gives her the space to work things out on her own, which Luma is of course much prouder of for having managed herself! It’s just really sweet. There’s also a lovely theme about responsibility and looking after a pet, which is well-handled; I enjoyed the little pet-care tips given by Luma and Timir after the main stories were done – what a cute idea.
Now, onto the dragons! Timir is really cute, a real scene-stealer of a pet, and much of the humour in the story comes from his pesky hijinks. I was surprised how much time Timir spends as a dog – I’ve always imagined that dragons would be more cat-like than dog-like (the hoarding and sleeping, mostly!), but I really enjoyed this interpretation, and it certainly offers lots more opportunity for trouble! Any puppy-loving kid is going to fall immediately in love with Timir’s antics as an adorable, hectic puppy, and I think the story would be perfect for those who are already fans of animal books, as the magic is more incidental and the chaos Timir creates is the true, hilarious focus.
I think this would be a great new read for fans of Jasper and Scruff (review here), Marshmallow Pie The Cat Superstar (review here) and 44 Tiny Secrets (review here) or even (to date myself badly) Monty the Dog Who Wears Glasses; the humour has a similar vibe, and the sweeter, more emotional moments seem like a good match too. I’m really looking forward to further books in this series! Four out of five cats!