If you build a perfect sandcastle, a dragon will move in.
And that's exactly what happens to one very lucky boy at the beach. Dad is busy
sunbathing and Mom is busy with her book, so the boy and dragon roam the beach
together, flying a kite, braving the waves, and roasting marshmallows.
But no one believes him when he shares the news of his magnificent dragon: Mom
only hears the roar of the ocean, Dad thinks the dragon feather is a seagull feather,
and know-it-all sis claims there's no such thing as a dragon.
That's when the sandwiches mysteriously disappear, claw prints are found in the
brownies, and dragon-giggles erupt from the strangest of places. Heh-heh-heh.
Is there truly a mischievous dragon running around on the beach or is someone's
imagination running wild? Decide for yourself When a Dragon Moves In.
Hardcover, 32 full color pages, ages 4-8
ISBN 9780979974670, May 2011
Praise for When a Dragon Moves In
Featured in Barnes & Noble stores throughout the month of June!
Look for a B&N Storytime with Dragon near you!
From Scholastic Book Box Daily, May Teacher Panel Reviews
Reviewed by Jennifer, Kindergarten Teacher, Arizona
If you are a fan of Laura Numeroff’s books, then you will love When a Dragon Moves In. This wonderful book will
inspire every child’s imagination. The little boy in the story builds a sandcastle at the beach—and a dragon moves in!
This colorful and fun book stretches the imagination. Kids can think of all the great reasons why a dragon would be fun to have—
until he starts doing things that get the boy into trouble. Then you find out why you might not want to have a dragon at the beach
after all. If you love to use your imagination, this book is for you!
This book is good for: Imagination, Consequences, Prediction
A Kids' Choice Book at Scholastic Book Fairs and featured in the Scholastic May 2012 Seesaw Book Club flyer
From Scholastic Book Wizard
Hilarious Read about a Fire-Breathing Troublemaker! Uproariously silly cause-and-effect story shows the joys
and eventual problems of having a dragon for a best friend. When a dragon moves into this boy's sand castle, he's absolutely
thrilled. After all, this scaly fire-breather frightens away bullies and makes it easy to toast marshmallows. But then the dragon
starts messing up the brownies and flicking sand at the other kids...and guess who gets in trouble? Told in the circular style of If
You Give a Mouse a Cookie, this funny book reaches its conclusion, and invites a return to the beginning for the whole hilarious
story to begin again!
From Kirkus Reviews
Doesn’t every child want a dragon? Well, "[i]f you build the perfect sandcastle, a dragon will move in," and in this funny and
creative riff on cause and effect, that's exactly what happens. At first, things are perfect: You have a friend to play with, a
permanent bully deterrent, a built-in marshmallow toaster and an ever-present raft. But then things start to get complicated. You
have to feed the dragon and clean up after him—and no one will believe you when you explain that the dragon is the one to
blame. Was that a dragon-ish cackle coming from inside the sandcastle? Be careful what you wish for! Colorful, cartoony
illustrations brim with humor as they depict this animated boy and the impish dragon who may or may not entirely exist. The
deadpan text is sure to illicit giggles as it captures the conundrum of an imaginary friend with a child's eye and provides a gentle
acceptance of the mild misbehavior that sometimes accompanies imaginative play. Oh, well. Maybe it's time to get rid of the
dragon, as long as you are polite about it. But if you build another perfect sandcastle, perhaps he'll come back (with friends)
tomorrow. A sandy complement to If You Give a Mouse a Cookie
From Publishers Weekly
Fans of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and its sequels should enjoy how debut author Moore, channeling an imaginative boy at
the beach with his family, muses upon the consequences of having a bright red dragon take up lodging in his sand castle. At first
it's all fun and games ("...you'll have a built-in marshmallow toaster"), with a little subterfuge thrown in (since there's no smoking
on the beach, "you'll have to hide his smoke from the lifeguard"). But as the day wears on, the fantasy begins to impinge on
others. Ultimately, the cardinal sin of the beach is committed: throwing sand at one's annoying big sister. "Then you'll march over
to your sandcastle and order your dragon to leave until he learns some manners," says the narrator, who seems firm in his
resolution, but who will live to pretend another day. Although it's not the freshest concept on the shelves, Moore has a light, sure
touch, and she gives McWilliam (I Need My Monster) plenty of room to exercise his considerable gifts for operatic
expressiveness and expertly choreographed physical humor.
From Children's Literature
"If you build a perfect sandcastle, a dragon will move in." So begins the narrative of a castle builder on the beach, and so it
happens, at least in his imagination. He notes all the advantages of having a dragon, like a built-in marshmallow toaster and a
protector from bullies. When he tries to tell his mother, father, and sister about it, however, they don't believe him. Then the
dragon starts causing trouble, like eating all the sandwiches, making bubbles in the lemonade, and nibbling the brownies. His
parents blame him and draw the line. He decides to make the dragon leave, vowing never to make a perfect sand castle again,
"At least until tomorrow." The delightfully humorous fantasy introduces the enthusiastic sand architect and the happy, fire
belching dragon on the jacket. McWilliam uses a pencil to create the lively duo and the supporting cast and props; color is
supplied by digital acrylic. The cartoon-y scenes contrast the usual activities of the family with the imaginary but plausible behavior
of the playful dragon. The beginning end pages show the happy family arriving at the beach. On the final end pages, a host of
eager youngsters are constructing sand castles on the beach, each with a resident dragon. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia
From School Library Journal
While enjoying a day at the beach with his family, a boy builds a perfect sand castle and a dragon promptly moves in toting a well
worn suitcase. The youngster can’t believe his luck while the rest of the family can’t believe him. Mischief blamed on the dragon
eventually gets the child in trouble, but that doesn’t stop him from building an even better castle the next day. While the text is fun,
the story is truly told through the comical illustrations. The friendly red dragon’s expressions are hilarious whether he is joyfully
flying a kite, gobbling sandwiches, or has his snout wrapped in a towel to smother his smoke. Readers will enjoy pointing out
what could be real-life explanations for everything the boy attributes to it. Certainly “no beach bully would dare stomp your castle
with a dragon inside.” (But it would run from an angry dad, pictured behind the narrator.) From the delighted face of the boy
when he finds the dragon, to the frustration of the parents when the creature has caused too much trouble, the story
and pictures show a classic family outing. This story of a runaway imagination will make for an entertaining storytime
as well as an enjoyable one-on-one read.
From Library Media Connection
Recommendation: Highly Recommended
“If you build a perfect sandcastle, a dragon will move in,” complete with his suitcase. A dragon can be a lot of fun to play with on
the beach, great for toasting marshmallows and serving as your own personal raft. But some people might not believe that you
really have a toothy, feathered, roaring dragon in your sandcastle, or that it was the dragon who ate all the peanut butter
sandwiches, left fingerprints in the brownies, and sprayed your sister with sand. This picture book cleverly toes the line between
reality and imagination during a little
boy’s exuberant day at the beach. Digitally painted illustrations show a goofily endearing red dragon and the expressive little boy
who is his soulmate as they revel in each other’s company. Warmly caricatured people, cinematic pacing, and gleaming
pages give this a look that is just short of animation itself. This is a crowd-pleasing merger of sly text and pictures
that will tickle many a funny bone. Reviewed by Jan Aldrich Solow, Librarian, A. Scott Crossfield Elementary School,
From Bayviews, the review journal of the Association of Children’s Librarians of Northern California
Recommendation: HIGH ADDITIONAL
During a sunny day at the beach, an unnamed boy builds the perfect sandcastle and, as a result, is befriended by an imaginary
dragon. As the day goes on, the boy and the dragon become irritable and start misbehaving, ending up spraying sand all over the
boy’s sister. Using a circular format, the story is told in hilarious detail. Although the boy sends the dragon away to learn
some manners, the next day, when the boy once again builds a perfect sandcastle, more dragons return. The multimedia
illustrations overflow with humorous details and comical expressions and poses. McWilliam uses saturated colors,
shadows, framing and splashes of color to great effect. True to its circular format, this book is likely to be read over and over
again. -Helen Bloch, Oakland PL
From Librarian Tasha Saecker
"...Moore uses the engaging second-person point of view, referring to the reader as “you.” It draws you directly into the story
and gives it a strong and inviting structure as well. The story moves quickly from one moment to the next, which creates a vibrant
feel to the story. It’s a story that speaks to the power of imagination in creating a special time. McWilliam’s art has a
cinematic quality to it that children will immediately respond to. He captures emotions on faces with comedic skill. This is a
refreshing style to have in a children’s book because it closely mimics what they see in films. It’s a friendly and lovely thing to see.
A great beach read, this will have children scrambling to get their castles up and welcoming to dragons."
From Edwards Book Club
"When a Dragon Moves In tells the tale of a little boy and his family at the beach, and the misadventures he gets into when a dragon moves into
his perfect sandcastle. It’s funny, too, making both me and my daughter laugh (a good children’s book should always entertain the parent in my
opinion). Bright illustrations added to the lively tale. Imagination is the central theme to this book and the boy around which the story revolves
certainly has it in spades…. My child loved all the little details about the dragon, and since she has been going to the beach a lot lately, the
setting was perfect for her. I’m pretty sure I know what will happen the next time we do go to the beach and she builds a sandcastle!"
From Off the Library Shelf: Picture Book of the Week
"...a colorful fantasy about a little boy having a fun day at the beach … when a friendly dragon moves in to his sand castle. This
dragon (is it imaginary? is it real?) is a great friend to the little boy, but also wreaks havoc on his parents and older sister –
comically eating all the food, spraying sand everywhere, and more. This book is perfect for little boys who like dragons (which is
precisely 77% of little boys)."
From Puget Sound Council for Reviewing Children's Media
"This cumulative tale reminiscent of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie tells of a small boy who believes if you build the perfect
sandcastle a dragon will move in, and so he does. ... The illustrations are... large, colorful and full of life. This is a great book for
sharing with a group or as a jump start to a writing activity with an older audience." Reviewed by Kay Evey (Tukwila Library)
From the Charleston, SC, Post and Courier
What happens when you build a perfect sand castle? A dragon moves in, of course. Jodi Moore explores youthful play and the
imagination of childhood with the tale of a little boy at the beach.
From Parent Pages News
"...this book written by Jodi Moore and illustrated by Howard McWilliam will make you want to run to the beach or at least a
It’s hard to get your family to believe a dragon (a gigantic fire-spitting one) has moved into your sandcastle simply because it’s a
perfect sandcastle fit for such a charming beast. Oh, but he’s not so perfect. Was it he who ate the peanut butter sandwiches,
blew bubbles in your lemonade, and nibbled the brownies. Something wild is definitely going on at the beach. Is it a dragon or
just a wild imagination? Hmmm, you be the judge."
From the South Sound Book Review Council
"...Moore and McWilliam do a terrific job of supplying humor to a boy’s imagination. ...Howard McWilliam’s hilariously
expressive illustrations are perfect for this light-hearted beach tale."
From Author Eileen Spinelli
WHEN A DRAGON MOVES IN has arrived and it is clever and delightful! I just love it. It has such a bright and playful spirit.
Like you [the author] --I've spent many sandy, summery days at the Jersey shore. WHEN A DRAGON MOVES IN has stirred
my own sweet memories.The bold, colorful art pairs perfectly with your text. A terrific book! I can't wait to share it with the
Three clowns from Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus read When a Dragon Moves In to students in the Clinton
Township NJ School District for Read Across America. Click the pic to hear their funny reading.
From Baltimore's Child
When a boy builds the perfect sandcastle, a dragon moves in, and the two have a great time,
until someone begins misbehaving. Is it the dragon? Or does someone have an overactive
imagination? Vivid and imaginative illustrations by Howard McWilliam are simply wonderful.
From School Counselor Barbara Gruener
...a whimsical summer sizzler about the antics of a dragon who moves into the sandcastle of a lucky little lad. While his family
busily goes about their beach business, the boy and his dragon have all sorts of fun roaming around while they roast
marshmallows, bust bullies, brave waves, and fly a kite. Despite his insistence of the dragon's existence, this creative kid cannot
convince his family that the dragon is real. And when mischief starts to happen, the boy decides to send his dragon packing "until
he learns some manners." That's my favorite part because it's the perfect segue into a character chat with my students. What
should a dragon's manners look like, sound like, feel like at the beach? At home? At school? Who will teach him those manners?
How will we know that he's learned them? Then will he be back? The eye-poppingly expressive illustrations by Howard
McWilliam bring the text to life in such a magical way that I actually wanted to believe! After reading this Dragon tale,
use the pictures to allow your students to share their favorite sun and sand adventures using as many sparkle words as they can.
Then, fire up their imaginations by encouraging them to mesh fantasy with fact as they script a summertime story of their own.
Read an interview with the author on Barbara's The Corner on Character blog.
From San Francisco Book Review
The Trouble with Dragons: At the beach, everyone is too busy to play, so a boy is left to his own devices. What to do, what to
do? Why build a sandcastle, of course. When you build a great sandcastle with a bucket, shovel, and imagination, the real fun
begins. Dragons love sandcastles, so, naturally, one will want to move right in. Dragons are perfect friends. They can toast your
marshmallows, keep you afloat in the water, and lots of other fun things. But when they eat everything, even Sister's sandwiches;
cover the brownies with dragon prints; and spray Sister with sand, who do you think will be blamed? Grrrrr! There's only one
thing to do: banish the dragon and never build a sandcastle again. At least not today. Every child will relate to this story of a boy
who just needs a little attention, but instead is ignored, which is a certain catalyst for trouble. The author hits a perfect tone,
showing great imagination, laugh-out-loud humor, and a real understanding of the boy's problem. Bright, active illustrations nearly
jump off the page, supporting this whimsical romp with humorous detail. Kids (and grown-ups too) will love When a Dragon
From Bookfoolery and Babble
When a little boy spends a day at the beach and builds a beautiful sandcastle, a dragon moves in. The dragon toasts
marshmallows, holds up the little boy's kites, scares bullies away. He roars (like the sound of the ocean), has sharp teeth (like
broken shells) and eats a little too much of the family's food. As you read When a Dragon Moves In, you are clearly shown that
the dragon is simply a figment of the little boy's imagination. His father lounges on the beach and chases away the bullies, mother
reads her book and hears the sound of the ocean, not a roar.
What a beautiful, imaginative, perfect picture book for preschoolers! I love the way the illustrator's cheerful paintings make it plain
that the dragon isn't real and it's okay for youngsters to pretend -- but careful what you try to slip past the rest of the family.
Blaming your misdeeds on an imaginary friend only goes so far!
Highly recommended for little ones and new readers.
From Kids Book Review
This is a fun and engaging read which cleverly leaves the reader wondering if the dragon is real or is just the boy’s imagination.
Wonderfully paced and accompanied by magnificent illustrations, which are a joy to look at, this story is enchanting and
guaranteed to bring lots of smiles. Thumbs up!
From Book Bloggin' With Elizabeth
"…a great book for either gender!... Each picture in the book really captures the "beachy" feel…. I would use this book in a
classroom up to fourth grade… a good read aloud for younger ones."
From Pied Piper Picks
What is better then a perfect day at the beach? A day at the beach with a dragon! How does one get a dragon you might ask?
Well, according to When a Dragon Moves In, if you build a perfect sandcastle, a dragon will move in! A wonderful day at the
beach ensues as a young boy and his dragon play ball, blow bubbles, dance, and roast marshmallows. Would you believe a
dragon can also protect your sand castle from bullies? It’s true! But be careful, you don’t want your dragon to be found. That
means you’ll have to hide him…and hiding dragon smoke is never easy! Find out what other fun and trouble can happen When a
Dragon Moves In.
From Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews
What could be better than a picture book about a dragon? A picture book about a dragon who lives on a beach of course! At
least I think so, because I am a fan of dragons, and I love spending time at the beach building sandcastles, exploring tide pools,
and dozing under an umbrella. I am therefore delighted to bring you this dragony beachy book. I have a feeling that today' picture
book will inspire dragon lovers to get busy building sandcastles as fast as they can....
Dragon fans are going to love this clever picture book, especially when they see what happens in the end. In fact, they will love
the dragon in the story so much that they might be tempted to find a sandcastle dragon of their own.
With amusing illustrations and a great story, this is a wonderful picture book to share with someone who is has a soft spot for
From Booksicals blog
3/12 – 3/18 Children’s Book of the Week: "...kids and grown-ups alike will get a kick out of the boy and the dragon’s
mischevious tricks, and wonder just how much in the boy’s head the dragon really is."
From New York Journal of Books and The Crypto Capers blog
When a Dragon Moves In is a story about friendship, the beach, and a creative imagination.... This 32-page picture book is a
cute story about how sometimes our imaginations can run away with us. Though the words and story are simple and
charming, the artwork really makes this book stand out. Howard McWilliam does a phenomenal job depicting each detail,
lending humor and expression to characters children will want to look at again and again. The artwork really enhances the story,
making it a book that children will want to read again and again.
With the story of When a Dragon Moves In by Jodi Moore, illustrated by Howard McWilliam, we have a story that reminds one
of those instances where children adopt make-believe friends as companions - except in this case such a friend is a dragon.
There is very little text on each page, but there is much in the large illustrations for children to think and ask questions about. The
story has another twist—the characters do not have names other than mother, father and sister. It doesn't even say boy, but the
reader knows the central character is a boy. In fact, the author suggests that it is the reader who is the center of the story in the
first line, “If you build a sand castle, a dragon will move in.”
The author and illustrator have captured the essence of a child dreaming up a make believe friend. The story has the
ring of a child telling the story even though it was written by an adult who has not completely lost the magic of imagining what it
would be like to have a dragon for a friend—even if for one day. This was a delightful read.
From Brooklyn Family, Bronx Family, Staten Island Family & Queens Family
Families can enjoy a day at the beach without needing to slather on the sunscreen with the new, hardcover book “When a Dragon
Moves In.” This humorous and endearing tale of friendship quickly engages its 4- to 8-year-old target audience — and their
parents — from the moment author Jodi Moore writes, “If you build a perfect sand castle, a dragon will move in.” The comedy
ensues when the imaginative little boy tries to introduce his distracted parents to his new fire-breathing sidekick. The
outlandishness of his attention-grabbing stunts — drawn in vibrant color by Howard McWilliam — increases as his frustration
mounts. Moore’s story has a moral for the parents, too, serving as a reminder to busy moms and dads to take a moment to
enjoy their own kids before their childhood — and magical sidekicks — go out with the tide. -Lisa J. Curtis
From Jen Robinson's Book Page
When a Dragon Moves In is a treasure. Over-the-top fun in eyecatching colors, realistic family togetherness, and a celebration
of the power of imagination. Definitely one to add to the summer reading list.
From The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County
A young boy builds a sand castle on the beach and a dragon moves in. The boy and the dragon spend the day at the shore flying
a kite, braving the waves, defying bullies, and roasting marshmallows, while the boy's parents remain occupied nearby with their
own pastimes. When no one believes the boy's story about the dragon, the creature launches into a mischievous mode and
wreaks havoc on everything in its path-- or is it all in the boy's imagination?
From Crib Notes Kelly
"...The cadence of the lines is wonderful, each leading perfectly into the next, but without being too predictable (reminding me of
Laura Numeroff’s If You Give series). The illustrations are amazing and fit perfectly with the story. They depict a joyful beach, a
beautiful sandcastle, and a family thoroughly enjoying their vacation…oh, and one friendly dragon! This is a new favorite of mine.
It’s great for beach, bedtime, and beyond. Pack this one in your beach bag!..."
A day at the beach – specifically the beach at Whipple Dam State Park – inspired Boalsburg mom Jodi Moore to write her first
published picturebook, “When A Dragon Moves In,” illustrated in brilliant summertime hues by Howard McWilliam.
The story, told in second-person, is about a little boy who learns that if you build the perfect sandcastle, a fire-breathing dragon –
carrying a well-traveled suitcase -- will take up residence. Like a rambunctious child, the dragon might eat more than his share of
the sandwiches, blow bubbles in the lemonade, and kick sand on big sister. But overall it’s a real godsend for the parents, who
are mostly left in peace while dragon and hero entertain one another.
“When A Dragon Moves In” follows the arc of a perfect family beach day, including rafting, kite-flying, catch, and a picnic.
Realistically, after all that sun and frolic, the day ends with our hero’s emotional meltdown and the banishment of the dragon. But
not to worry. There’s always tomorrow!
The humor and energy of Moore’s text is amplified by McWilliam’s cartoonish illustrations. For example, our hero credits his
dragon with scaring off beach bullies, not realizing that Dad, one eyebrow raised, is behind him brandishing barbecue tongs.
While the story seems to invite readers to decide for themselves if the dragon is real, the illustrations make it pretty clear that he’s
not, at least not in the traditional sense. In fact the red reptile is a simultaneous avatar both of joyous imagination and pesky,
impish id. I, for one, can’t decide if the co-star’s dual nature makes the story deeper and more complex, or a little confusing.
Likewise, consider the opening line, “If you build a perfect sandcastle, a dragon will move in,” which is compelling in part because
it rings a bell. Anybody wanna give a mouse a cookie?
Nitpicks aside, “When A Dragon Moves In” is a terrific book to rev up enthusiasm in advance of a beach vacation, or even a
day at the beach. And once having read it, young readers will forever after peek hopefully inside their own sandcastles, just in
case a dragon has moved in.
REVIEWS BY KIDS
From 3 young readers, sons of Kimberly J. Sabatini:
"It's interesting because it's a mix between fairy tale and reality." - the 10-year-old
"I love that the main character is a dragon and oh-oh-oh did you know that Dragon is in the school library now???" - the 8-year
"I love that at the end, when he made the big giant sand castle... all the dragons started marching in. That's my favorite." - the
Reviewed by Madison (Age 7) on WhatsGoodToDo.com
My name is Madison and I am 7 years old. I have just read When a dragon moves in book. It's about a boy and his family that
go to the beach for a day out. The boy builds a perfect sandcastle its so good that a dragon moves in. The boy and his dragon
have loads of fun on the beach and then the boy tries to tell his family about the dragon but they don't believe him, but then the
dragon got into all sorts of mischief like spraying sand over the boys sister and eating her peanut butter sandwiches. In the end the
boy kicks the dragon out of the castle and tells him to learn some manners, and says 'he will never build a perfect sandcastle
again' but he did the next day. I would like a dragon to live in my sandcastle because it would be fun, but I wouldn't want him to
eat my sandwiches. My little brother even enjoyed this book and kept going 'RAAR' everytime he saw the dragon.
From Jessica Martin blog
I purchased this book to use for one of my reading sessions with my RITE child. He mentioned liking dragons one day, so I
chose this book for him. ...This book has a very bright wrap-around cover that would attract any reader. On the endpaper and
flyleaf, there is a beautiful picture of the boy and his family walking to the beach. This leads right into the story, where the family is
sitting on the beach. The text is informal, and there is a different layout on each page. The illustrations were drawn with pencil on
paper, and painted with digital acrylic paint. The bright brown sand and the blue ocean water make you feel like you’re at the
beach with the boy and the dragon.
This is an adorable book, and I would recommend it to anyone to share with their students or children. In the classroom, I would
read this book aloud and use a phrase from the story as a writing prompt. I would have my students write about building a perfect
sandcastle, and having some kind of creature move in. They would tell about what happened during the day, and what events
took place with their creature. Although this is a fantasy book, it would still be great for that writing prompt. This book has not
been awarded any medals or honors, but it is a fantastic children’s book. [Ed. note: The blogger was unaware that Dragon has
received several honors.]
From the Sunnyvale CA Library
A little boy arrives at the beach for a fun day with his family. He brings everything he needs for building sandcastles (including an
active imagination.) The castle he builds comes equipped with a mischievous and playful dragon. Is it the dragon that eats sister’s
peanut butter sandwich and puts dragon prints in the brownies? Did dragon really loose teeth and feathers on the beach? Is that
him roaring? The cartoon style illustrations tell the truth about dragon’s existence.
From SRuble's World
"This is a great story about friendship, imagination, and families. The text is wonderful and the art is gorgeous, plus it’s the perfect
antidote to snowy winter weather!"
From Book Bloggin' With Elizabeth
"…a great book for either gender!.... Each picture in the book really captures the “beachy” feel…. I would use this book in a
classroom up to fourth grade…. a good read aloud for younger ones."
|Watch author Jodi Moore talk
about Dragon on WHVL TV
|DRAGON VISITED SANDCASTLE COMPETITIONS!!
When a Dragon Moves In was awarded as part of select 1st prize packages
at these sandcastle competitions last summer:
LOOK! There's our Dragon!!
|Available in German, Korean, Chinese,
Greek, Polish, and Hebrew.
|A week's worth of
pages for K-2
literature and reading
|Picture Books That Explore and Illuminate
Peek inside by clicking the cover