Page 1

the imaginary dragon by Matthew Swanson Illustrations by Robbi Behr

Bobbledy Books 100 South Queen Street Chestertown, MD 21620 ISBN: 978-1-4507-8220-3 Copyright Š 2013 All rights reserved.

by Matthew Swanson Illustrations by Robbi Behr

A dragon named Bill lived on top of a mountain that rose above a town full of busy, interesting people. Early each morning, Bill flew down to see what they were up to.

Everyone in town did something important. The baker baked cinnamon rolls. The children went to school. And the king stood on his balcony, waving his scepter back and forth, telling everybody what to do.

More than anything, Bill wanted to do something important, but since he didn’t know what it might be, he lay on the bakery roof all day long, watching and waiting.

One morning, a bossy bird named Morris landed on the end of Bill’s nose. “Why are you lying there like a lump?” Morris said. “You’re the worst dragon in the world.” “Excuse me?” said Bill.

“Dragons are supposed to breathe fire and kidnap princesses and sit on big piles of gold,” said Morris, strutting back and forth on his bony bird feet.

Bill thought about this. He could breathe fire, but usually chose not to because he thought it was rude. He certainly didn’t want to kidnap anybody, and he couldn’t think of anything more boring than gold. “It doesn’t matter anyway,” said Morris, “since dragons are imaginary.” And with that, he flew off to be mean to somebody else.

Bill thought about what Morris had said. He couldn’t be imaginary—could he? He glanced at his tail. It didn’t look imaginary. He tapped his nose with his knuckles. It didn’t feel imaginary. But Morris had said he was imaginary, and Morris was almost always right.

Bill decided to find someone else to ask.

Bill went to the forest and found his best friend, Unicorn Pete. Pete was sad. “Morris said I was imaginary,” said Pete, who looked like he was about to cry. “You, too?” said Bill, handing Pete a tissue. “I don’t know what to do,” said Pete.

“Maybe we can be imaginary together,” said Bill. “I don’t want to be friends with an imaginary dragon,” said Pete. “I’m going to find my friends Laura and Renaldo. They’re leprechauns.”

“Can I come?” said Bill. “No way,” said Pete, leaving Bill all alone.

Bill wanted to find out for sure whether or not he was imaginary, so he went to the town library and found a book about dragons. The very first line was “Dragons are imaginary creatures.�

Bill showed the book to the librarian. “Is this true?” he asked. “Am I really imaginary?” “You sure are,” said the librarian. “And since imaginary creatures aren’t allowed to have library cards, I’m taking yours away.”

The librarian tore Bill’s library card into tiny pieces. “Can I keep the pieces, at least?” said Bill, on the verge of tears. “My real ears can’t hear your imaginary words,” the librarian said as he scooted Bill out the door and slammed it shut behind him.

Bill wandered miserably back to the forest.

Being useless, lonely, and imaginary was so exhausting that Bill curled up in a pile of dry leaves and went to sleep, hoping he’d feel better after a nap. He slept throughout the afternoon and night and all through the next morning.

When Bill finally woke up early the next afternoon, he was very hungry. There was a field of corn at the edge of the woods. Bill loved corn but almost never ate it because it made him burp fire. “But since I’m imaginary, it won’t hurt if I eat an ear or two,” he thought.

Before he knew it, Bill had eaten 357 ears of corn. He was almost glad to be imaginary if it meant getting the chance to stuff his belly.

But suddenly, Bill began to feel very queasy, so he went back to the forest to lie down.

Before long, he felt a gigantic rumbling in his belly and let out a gigantic burp, which was followed by a gigantic fireball, which burned down a gigantic tree.

Bill felt bad about the tree, but only for a second.

“Imaginary fireballs can only burn down imaginary trees,� thought Bill, before eating another 893 ears of corn, burping three more fireballs, and burning down three more trees.

Meanwhile, in the town, the baker woke up with a yawn.

He looked at his clock and saw that it was already well past lunchtime.

The baker yelled, “My cinnamon rolls!� which woke up the children, who looked at their wristwatches and realized that they were very late for school.

“We’re very late for school!” they cried,

who looked out the window

which woke up the king,

and saw that none of the people were doing what they were supposed to be doing.

The king stood on his balcony and waved his scepter back and forth, but it was no use. Everyone was still in bed! This made the king so angry that he stormed down the stairs and got onto his horse without even changing out of his pajamas.

The king summoned his eight bravest soldiers and charged off at once, directly toward the tower of smoke rising above the forest.

When the king and his men found Bill, he was lying on his back, completely stuffed and surrounded by smoldering trees.

“Go ahead and poke me with your swords and spears,” said Bill. “It won’t hurt a bit. I’m completely imaginary.” To Bill’s surprise, the king began to laugh. “What makes you think you’re imaginary?” said the king.

“A little bird told me,” said Bill. “Plus, I read it in a book.”

“That’s nonsense,” said the king. “You’re as real as the nose on my face. “I am?” said Bill. “Of course you are,” said the king. “Every morning when you land on the bakery roof, you wake up the baker,

who bakes the cinnamon rolls,

which smell so good that it wakes up the children,

who sing and shout on their way to school,

which wakes me up

so that I can stand on my balcony, waving my scepter back and forth and telling everybody what to do!�

“I’m really not imaginary?” said Bill with surprise. “Of course you’re not!” said the king. “If you were imaginary, I wouldn’t be waving my scepter at you telling you what to do!”

“Oh!” said Bill, suddenly quite pleased. “And what am I supposed to do?”

Stop burning forest and baker in

down my wake up the the morning!! said the king in a huff, before getting back on his horse and riding back to town to change out of his pajamas.

Bill smiled. Not only was he not imaginary, but now he had something important to do. He had never felt so good in his life. To celebrate, he ate 147 more ears of corn and burped a tiny fireball that accidentally singed Morris’s eyebrows.

“Whoops!� said Bill. Morris said nothing and flew away to be mean to somebody else.

Early the next morning, Bill flew down to the bakery roof. A few minutes later, the cinnamon rolls started baking. A few minutes after that, the children started singing and shouting.

And a few minutes after that, the king appeared on his balcony. He looked right at Bill and, instead of waving his scepter, gave a little wink.

Feeling very satisfied and extremely important, Bill went to the forest to tell Pete that dragons aren’t imaginary after all.

But Pete wasn’t there.

As it turns out, unicorns really are imaginary.


make your own dragon Make me some friends (real ones, please)!


Find a piece of heavy paper and fold it in half long-ways.

4 Fold the bottom flap back to make a triangle shape. (Note: It works best if the bottom triangle is bigger than the upper one.)



Measure about 1/4 of the page down from the top and, starting with the folded edge, cut a straight line halfway across the page.

Fold the top flap back to make a triangle shape.

5 Return the triangular flaps back to their original positions, turn the paper over, and fold along the creases in the opposite direction.




Open the card up like a tent.

Close the folded paper like a card and rub the folded edges to reinforce the creases.

Draw the rest of your dragon around the mouth.


Press the top triangle down and inwards with your thumb.



Do the same thing with the bottom triangle.

Open the paper as you would a book. Inside, you’ll find a dragon mouth! Oh! Hi, friend!

Now that you’ve made your dragon (or family of dragons), take a photo and send it to us at We’ll post your dragons on our blog!

WHO WE ARE Matthew Swanson wrote the words for this book. Robbi Behr drew the pictures. They live together with their three kids, one orange cat, and one blue dog in the hayloft of an old barn on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

Matthew is a writer and dad who is pretty sure he’s not imaginary. He can’t cast spells, spin straw into gold, fly on a broomstick, or burp fireballs. He can, however, eat two foot-long sandwiches in less than 10 minutes.

Robbi is an artist and mom who had two imaginary friends when she was little. She called them her “new brother and sister.” They were much nicer than her real brother and sister, and they lived in Washington, D.C.

Yearlong memberships to Bobbledy Books (five books, one album, and a birthday card) are available for $60. Go to to sign up.

Also by Bobbledy Books: The Girl with Frogs in Her Ears Bobby and the Robots Gorillas in the Kitchen Archipelago I Don’t Wanna Brush My Teeth (album) For stories, pictures, and other fun, go to

Imaginary shmaginary

Firemen put out fires, cows make milk, and you help your parents clean the house . . . right? Everyone has a job to do, and everyone has a purpose. But when someone tells a dragon named Bill that he’s imaginary, he finds himself scorned by unicorns and librarians alike. After waking the baker, meeting the king, and eating a whole lot of corn, Bill discovers his true role in life and learns that bullies, sticks, and stones are no match for a really big burp.

bobbledy bOoKS Read. Write. Draw. Sing.

Bobbledy Books is a club for kids who like to read, write, draw, and sing. Members get books and music in the mail and the chance to have their own book published. Go to to learn more.

ISBN 978-1-4507-8220-3

9 781450 782203

The Imaginary Dragon  

Firemen put out fires, cows make milk, and you help your parents clean the house—right? Everyone has a job to do, and everyone has a purpose...

The Imaginary Dragon  

Firemen put out fires, cows make milk, and you help your parents clean the house—right? Everyone has a job to do, and everyone has a purpose...