Sleeping Dragons All Around


A book of poems that take the fear out of nighttime demons. Can Melissa tiptoe past the eight sleeping dragons in her house to reach the Mocha Maple Chocolate Cake or will Ms. Lindy Lean, the fitness dragon, or Fagan, the punk dragon, get there first?

How I came to write this book

I was in university. It was late. It was dark. I was hard at work on an assignment on "The Eve of St. Agnes", a famous poem by John Keats. Near the end of the poem I read these lines: blah blah blah blah. I shivered. Sleeping Dragons All Around! What a metaphor for fears I thought. Plus, I loved the music in the line. I wrote it down on the page and thought "I am going to play with those syllables! After my lessons are done!!" A while later I heard "MUM!! MUM!!" Five year old Dustin (Dee) was frantic. Anxious, I ran upstairs. "I want a drink of water but I couldn't come downstairs. I had a bad dream. There were sharks all around." We talked about bad dreams and Dee got his water and settled back down. Not me! I forgot about my homework and started writing. I remembered what it was like for me when I had bad dreams. What Dee had said was an echo of Keats' poem and using that poem I began ---- "SHH! SHH! There are Sleeping dragons All Around." I wrote the first draft that night and took almost 2 years to complete it. I still thank my professor, Alan Bentley, from St. Thomas University for understanding why my assignment was a little unfinished and why I was so tired that day. Mostly, for believing me when I told him "I think I am writing another book."

Sleeping Dragons Trivia

  • I wrote it for my youngest son when he was five after he woke up from bad dream. The title is based on a line from Keat’s. The Eve of St. Agnes. I was studying the poem in Prof. Al Bentley’s class on the Romantics. The book would never have happened without his inspired teaching.
  • It was the first children’s book to be awarded the Atlantic Booksellers Award. That recognition and money meant I kept writing.
  • On the release of this book. I had my first national radio interview with the late great Peter Gzowski, marking the beginning of a friendship and mentorship I value to this day. Terry McLeod was the producer of that show. His children were wee ones and I think his reaction as a Dad meant as much to me.
  • J. P. Michael’s produced a musical theatre version and there was wonderful music composed by Alan Cole.
  • Teachers once dressed as dragons and performed the book for me.

Illustrated by Michelle Nidenoff
Reader age: toddlers and up
Doubleday Canada Ltd, 1989
ISBN: 0-385-25165-3
Listen to this great review.