Do you remember The Wind in the Willows? Kenneth Grahame’s children’s novel began with the characters Rat and Mole paddling their canoe down a river through the English countryside, and ended with millions of young readers having a brand new idea of where books could bring their imaginations. Parents were pleased too; the heroes of the book were the kind and demure, not the brash and aggressive.
Another of Grahame’s stories, with a similar message of getting along with peers, is The Reluctant Dragon. It has been adapted for the children’s stage by Mary Hall Surface, and if you get to the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine (142 Free St.) starting on Thursday, November 2 at 4 p.m., with performances running through Sunday, November 19, you can see it unfold before you and your kids’ wondering eyes. Tickets are $10 ($9 for members), with a ‘Stay and Play’ option for $16 which gives guests the chance to meet the cast and crew and learn more about the story. Simply visit https://cmtmthereluctantdragon.brownpapertickets.com/ or dial 800-838-3006 to make your purchase.
For readers who never read the book nor saw the 1941 Disney version of The Reluctant Dragon, the story follows a youngster named the Boy who witnesses his fellow villagers blaming the Dragon for everything that goes wrong around them, from failed crops to soured milk. They go so far as to call in the dueling services of St. George, much to the Boy’s chagrin, for he knows that this particular Dragon prefers poetry and tea to any sort of malicious malfeasance. In the end, what we know in our hearts is confirmed: in case of a misunderstanding, it is better to give the benefit of the doubt than to escalate and hurt the feelings (or worse) of someone who could be your true friend.
It’s a lesson that could stand to be underscored, no?