Rita’s Corner: “You have to be brave to be an artist!” Henry and the Chalk Dragon


Front cover

Our story starts with a boy named, Henry, who lives in the town of Squashbuckle, a pretty normal-ish town. Henry is often made fun of because of what he does and what he wears, like a raincoat with chivalry written in crayon on the inside of it because Henry wants to be a knight. And, he calls his raincoat his armor. 

Henry is very good at drawing and he has a very wild imagination!  Henry’s parents made his door into a chalk board and so Henry draws all over it, leaving smudges everywhere because he doesn’t just use chalk he uses paint and crayons and colored pencils; things that don’t normally come off with a wet towel.

So one night Henry decides to draw a dragon on his door. Using all the smudges and swirls. He draws it. It looks very majestic. He doesn’t see it move now but he will. And when his mother comes in to say good night to him, that’s when the magic happens.

Drawing from Chapter 6 Dragon Smiles

Henry saw it move, this never happened to him before, his art moving as if it were alive. He thinks it to be strange. No of his other art that he drew on that wall ever came to life, now the dragon did…doesn’t it seem weird? The dragon stays on the wall over night but when Henry awakes the next morning the dragon tries to eat some of Henry’s other drawings. Then it turned into a rhino and then into an octopus. He starts fighting with it over his backpack, which the octopus has now in its clutches. Then weirdly enough the ‘dragon’, well I wouldn’t call it a dragon now at least maybe call it magical art, has turned into a greenish-jade color spider. Henry scoops it up into his lunchbox right as his mother walks in. He tries to tell her, but alas our hero’s mother doesn’t believe him, at least not yet. Henry puts on his armor, his raincoat with crayon-written chivalry in it, and a milk carton on his head, and heads off to the bus stop to, of course, catch the bus to school.

Drawing from chapter 4 A Lunchbox And A Quest

Our hero, sadly, is often made fun of for his wild imagination, and with the milk carton on his head. He is bullied by a kid named, Simon Snoot. So you may think at first that he has no friends but that is where you are wrong. He has one friend. (A lot more by the end of the book!) He is friends with a boy named Oscar, who by the way makes the best insults. Like: Humuhumumkunukuapuaa, which is a type of fish in Hawaii, these insults are very rare you could say because when someone says it to you you may think thay are putting a spell on you. Oscar is his friend because he also is a bit weird, he says he has a pet octagon which surprisingly he does (you’ll see later.). When Henry tells him that he has a dragon in his lunchbox instead of saying “Yeah right! Dragons don’t exist!” or “Are you crazy!?” he instead says; “How many teeth does it have?”.  Now that’s a good friend!

(at school) And today is a very special day, you could say, because today is an art contest. A fruit art contest. Meaning you have to draw something that has a fruit or veggies or something with a fruit or veggie. But, Henry’s class has to draw a bunny with lettuce. Henry wants to compete in the contest, but he knows his imagination will get the best of him and he will draw things like lettuce with eyes and trees with hair and stuff like that, and people will make fun of him. So he doesn’t really want to do it, but he has to do it because his whole class is doing it, except the teacher,  Miss Pimpernel. 

source: Emoji maker

Henry says the teachers, including the principal, have bought “smiles”. Henry explains that the smiles aren’t really their real face, just glued or stuck or plastered onto their faces. Henry also says that Miss Pimpernel has an entire purse full of smiles. Like “Be-Nice-to-me-I-haven’t-had-my-coffee smile,” there are worse ones than that so he says. Today they are drawing bunnies for the art contest, bunnies and lettuce. So when they get their paper and pencils and crayons to draw them a kid named Marybeth asks Miss Pimpernel if she is going to draw bunnies too. Miss Pimpernel says no and then Marybeth asks her ‘why’ over and over again and she also asks why do they have to draw bunnies. At this point I think the teacher would be embarrassed to draw a bunny and it not look like a bunny. She doesn’t want the kids to tease her about how bad her bunny came out…

Henry then reaches under his desk for the lunchbox, with the spider-dragon in it. But it’s gone… He panics and starts looking around, for it. He sees it inch toward the back corner of the classroom, the children’s coats are hung up over there. Then Oscar distracts the teacher by saying he has a pet Octagon. He explains that the Octagon is hairy, shaped like an octagon and eats circles. The teacher tries to explain to Oscar that octogans are shapes and not pets but fails. Then Jade, a girl who always watches Henry and Oscar — so Henry thinks she is a government spy — buts in saying that she has a paperclip for a pet. This is when Miss Pimpernel starts to explain similes, but Henry isn’t listening or being focused on learning he’s more focused on the lunchbox near the coat rack that is bulging with spider-dragon. 

Spider-dragon tears out of the lunchbox and sends many children into frightful panic attacks because he turns back into a dragon.  A big dragon. Then the teacher lost her glasses — the dragon has crushed them under his feet. Our hero and his friend escape the classroom by saying they had to go to the bathroom, while the class was left with the dragon who hadn’t eaten any of them yet. They went into the hallway and talked about what to do with the dragon. Oscar wants to be a knight since Henry is a knight and friends stay together, even in weird art-that-escaped-a-chalk-board-door situation. “Sally forth!

As the two heros set forth on their journey to take down the dragon by erasing him they also encounter some obstacles. First, they need a plan to catch the dragon-that-can-turn-into-other-things (They are still in the school).  They over hear the principal talking to people, The Bored women and The Bored Man. (yes that’s how it’s spelled in the book!) Henry bursts out that there was a dragon in the school and that he drew it and it came to life. They didn’t believe him, like his mom did in the morning. That made Henry feel angry that they didn’t believe him. He was telling the truth! 

Then Henry and Oscar go back to class to find out that the dragon has turned into Abraham Lincoln with a crooked nose and a hat that anything can fit inside it –he puts some kids in it. Henry and Oscar try to tell everyone that it is the dragon, but no one believes him, but Jade.


 Mr.Bruce, the bus driver comes in and saves the lunch lady, he asks what had happened and Henry told him what happened. A dragon… Mr.Bruce then tells Henry the time of when a story escaped from him and into the world; Jade also agrees with him and says sometimes her songs escape from her. She demonstrated by singing and then the song escaped and bounced off the walls. At first Henry doesn’t want to draw again; he doesn’t want people to disbelieve him. So Henry says he will never imagine anything again. Then Mr.Bruce says: “You have to be brave to be an artist.” This makes Henry feel better because he is talking to people who believe him. 

Inspired to draw my own creation! Rita

This was a pretty funny story but it also has characters that happen in real life too. You coul be like Henry and have a friend who believes in dragons and wild imagination things. Or be the bus driver Mr.Bruce who tells people to believe. Or Oscar who believes in many things, and has the best insults too. You could be someone who at the beginning didn’t believe but then did by the end of the story. You could be anyone from this story. 

To this day Henry still sits at his chalkboard door, drawing whatever comes to mind.


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