You Have to Be Brave to Be an Artist


I’m sitting alone-- which is quite rare-- listening to peaceful classical music in the background, delighting in the culmination of Henry and the Chalk Dragon by Jennifer Trafton. This wonderful tale has the ability to capture the imagination of adults and children alike! Read this aloud to your children and you’ll surely find yourselves laughing one moment and contemplating a deep idea the next.

In the town of Squashbuckle, just about anything can happen, and when Henry Penwhistle draws a mighty Chalk Dragon on his door, the dragon does what Henry least expects--it runs away. Now Henry's art is out in the world for everyone to see, and it's causing trouble for him and his schoolmates Oscar and Jade. If they don't stop it, the entire town could be doomed! To vanquish the threat of a rampaging Chalk Dragon, Sir Henry Penwhistle, Knight of La Muncha Elementary School, is going to have to do more than just catch his art--he's going to have to let his imagination run wild. And THAT takes bravery. ~ Good Reads

If your child thinks she is the only one with a vivid, wild imagination, this is the book for her. Is your eight year old drawing in sketchbooks, maybe even on walls, at every spare moment creating a world of his very own? Then he will immensely enjoy this whimsical and delightful story about a boy who doesn’t appear to see what is in front of his very eyes, what, according to others, is ‘real’.

It’s a joy as a mother to see how stories have shaped my children’s imaginations. My oldest daughter has an especially vivid imagination and still enjoys initiating or inventing story lines to act out with her siblings on a regular basis. At times, she has expressed feeling a little embarrassed that she spends much of her free time acting out stories. I know my children will find a friend whom they can identify with in Henry. I bet yours will too.

Trafton helps the reader see not only into the lives of children but also into the lives of the adult characters. She lets you pull the curtain back in the adults’ lives as they remember a time when they were creative and imaginative, and became aware of how the responsibilities of life have drowned out their ability to truly ‘see.’

“The trouble with most grown-ups, Henry had learned, is that they paid attention to the wrong things. They spotted the peanut butter sandwich you accidentally stuffed into your pocket, but they missed the Martian landing a spaceship in the backyard.”

Reading this felt convicting to me in my own motherhood journey. How often do I focus on petty things that don’t really matter in the bigger picture of life. Does it really matter if my daughter wears a dress to church? There was a time when it did matter, but I choose to let go of my preferences, and let her be creative and a decision maker. She often wears jeans, 2 baggy shirts (that clash), un-matching socks, and maybe even water shoes in the winter. Let the inner artist reign!

So...Do you or your child have an artist inside that needs to come out? Read this and be inspired on your journey to imagine the possibilities for goodness and beauty.

Be brave. Be brave. Be brave, says Henry.

To purchase a copy of Henry and the Chalk Dragon - Click here

About the author - JENNIFER TRAFTON is the author of The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic, which was a nominee for Tennessee’s Volunteer State Book Award and the National Homeschool Book award. Henry and the Chalk Dragon arose from her lifelong love of art and her personal quest for the courage to be an artist. When she’s not writing or drawing, she teaches creative writing classes and workshops in a variety of schools, libraries, and homeschool groups, as well as online classes to kids around the world. She lives in a 150-year-old farmhouse in Nashville, Tennessee, along with her husband, an energetic border collie, a miniature rooster, an assortment of chickens and ducks, and a ghost who haunts the staircase. Find out more by visiting,