The Boy Who Grew Dragons by Cambridge author Andy Shepherd is shortlisted for award
A children’s author from Cambridge has been nominated for a major award for her story about a boy and his pet dragon.
Andy Shepherd has been shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize in the Younger Fiction category for her book, The Boy Who Grew Dragons.
The story is the third in the series and tells of Tomas, who hatched his own pet dragon Flicker from a dragon fruit.
Andy said: “It’s very exciting and unexpected to be shortlisted for the award - I have been bursting to tell people, but I wasn’t allowed until now - they are very strict.
“It was always a dream to go into a bookshop and just pick my book up off the shelf, so now there will be a pile of them on a table and people will be talking about them it is wonderful.”
The books were inspired by Andy’s own sons who enjoyed her stories of their own pet dragon that she explained lived on their shed roof.
Andy said: “ I think it started because we were stuck in a traffic jam and I said wouldn't it be brilliant if we had a dragon who could lift our car up and take us to the beach? After that I started telling stories about this dragon who lived in our garden.
“Then when my younger son was born he started asking these difficult questions like where does the dragon come from, whey is he only here sometimes that made me start thinking maybe there's more to the story.”
Then inspiration came as she walked past the village allotments and wondered if a dragon could grow on a plant. It was only then she remembered dragon fruits and that made up her mind.
“I hadn't ever seen the dragon fruit tree so I looked it up and it seemed magical - you couldn’t make it up. They have these strange cactus leaves and colourful tendrils like a burst of flames and flowers as big as your head that only bloom for one night. I realised this took our little dragon into a real story. I couldn’t believe nobody had thought of it before. But there wasn’t anything.”
Flicker hatched from a dragon fruit that grew in Tomas’s grandad’s garden. What with dragons’ explosive poo, arrow sharp tails and penchant for eating anything, owning a dragon is harder than it looks.
“I wrote a chapter every day and would read it to my sons when they got home from school,” says Andy. “It was lovely and it made me finish it because they wanted to know what happens next.
“My boys are now 14 and 11. I wrote it when they were 11 and eight. They have been there all the way through and it has been very exciting for them to hold a copy.”
The winner will be announced at a ceremony in London at the end of March.