In Graham’s (The Underhills: A Tooth Fairy Story) tender portrait of childhood, when young Ellie finds a rainbow-colored dragon hatchling in the supermarket’s egg case, she names the tiny critter Scratch and sets him up cozily in her dollhouse at home…Graham’s elegant watercolor-and-ink illustrations capture snapshots of a child maturing in scenes of curly-headed, pale-skinned Ellie dancing with her sleepover guests, who also cuddle up with Scratch in their bed. Though the message is more likely to resonate with adults than with children, Graham elegantly conveys the way that Scratch, like childhood, slips “quietly away into the night.”
As usual with Graham, it’s his gently puffy, diverse, and rumpled illustrative cast that really makes the story; Scratch is very much a Graham dragon in his cuddly bumpy scaliness, and it’s a hoot to watch all the kids pointing at him in wonder as the adults pass by oblivious. There’s an adult perspective to the trajectory and audiences may understand the story different ways depending on their own relationships with Scratch-like companions, but they’ll be reassured by the notion that even the most evanescent of good friends can go on to find welcome elsewhere.
—Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books