Why retell a classic? Clearly, I am no Kenneth Grahame, but I adored this story so much when I was a kid that I wanted a new generation to enjoy this wonderful tale.
One day, I called up my editor extraordinaire, Kevin Lewis, and said, “Let's do a reprint of The Reluctant Dragon, where we can reset the type, and I'll colorize Ernest Shepard's original drawings.” Excited, he had me overnight a reprint to his office.
He called me the next day and said, “With all due respect to Mr. Shepard, I think you need to reillustrate this story for kids.”
“I dunno,” I said. “Dragons have got to be one of the hardest creatures to design - there are so many versions out there, and I feel like I really made my dragon mark with the one I designed for the Spiderwick books.”
Kevin pretended like he didn't hear me, and continued, “And with all due respect to Mr. Grahame, I think you should retell the story as well.”
“I dunno,” I said. “I've got so many other books in the hopper right now, and this is considered classic text. I don't think I can make it any better.”
Once again he pretended not to hear me and said simply, “Just write one chapter. After that, we'll know if you should do this or not.”
And there it was, that weekend I wrote the first four chapters and knew I had to do this book. My goal was not to improve what had come before but do a different take - a take which might appeal to the reader of today. I hope it does, and I hope you go back and read the original. Hey, maybe one day someone will retell this version, and the story will go on to become one of those that everybody knows and loves. There needs to be more dragons, knights, and (most importantly) kids who believe they may still exist in this world.