Dragon and Captain

Written by P.R. Allabach
Illustrated by Lucas Turnbloom

What was Captain doing in Dragon’s sandbox? He was moping. Because he’d lost his ship.

“Oh, no! I’ll help you find it! Come on!” Dragon said.
“Where are we going?” Captain asked.
“To my cave! I know I have a map there somewhere.”

Armed with a (toy watch) compass, a (paper towel tube) telescope, and a (handdrawn) map, Dragon and Captain set off on a great adventure.

Dragon is a boy who always wears his dragon robe. And Captain is a boy with a three-sided hat. But as the boys’ imaginations take over, we see them as they see themselves, and the backyard as the boys see it: a dark forest, a craggy cliff, and the immense sea.

Illustrated like a comic book, this book is a fantasy-filled graphic novel for the picture book set.

Can Dragon and Captain find the lost ship… before lunch?

friendship, imagination, backyard adventures, maps, play, pirates, dragons, boys, make believe, adventure friendship, imagination, backyard adventures, maps, play, pirates, dragons, boys, make believe, adventure


  • IN Young Hoosier Book Award list, 2017-18
  • Literary Classics Seal of Approval, 2015


From Brooklyn Family Magazine, August 2015
Ode to Calvin and Hobbes
Set your kids’ sails for an adventure with “Dragon and Captain,” the debut picture book from P.R. Allabach. It’s a rollicking celebration of summer days and unleashed imaginations that will especially delight readers ages 4-8. Like Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes comic strips, Dragon and Captain (Flashlight Press) is a graphic novel that moves between illustrations of real life and the active imaginations of the two boys who transform into the dragon and captain. Captain’s boat is missing and the lighthearted, kinetic illustrations by Lucas Turnbloom depict the two friends’ thrilling journey to find the ship and infiltrate a band of pirates in order to recapture it. In the imaginations of Dragon and Captain, a pocket watch becomes a compass and a paper towel tube becomes a telescope. It’s a reminder that children don’t need lots of stuff to be entertained during their vacation days; they need unstructured time, imagination, and a friend.

From Children’s Literature
Captain turns up in Dragon’s sandbox, and together they hunt for Captain’s missing ship by utilizing a map made by Dragon. Objects and locations in Dragon’s backyard become a bubbling waterfall, a dragon’s cave, a dark forest and more. A telescope, compass, and a brave deed assure Dragon and Captain that the stolen ship is rescued. Fantastically humorous illustrations showing the characters changing from ordinary boys to Dragon and Captain and back again enhance this delightful tale. Captain spews a few colorful phrases like “blubbering bubblegum” and “thundering thumbtacks,” which add flavor to the text. The characters appeal to young children and the setting and plot will inspire children to use their imaginations to dream up their own tales. This first picture book by P.R. Allabach will make readers hope for more Dragon and Captain books.

From The Corner on Character, Barbara Gruener
Engagingly brilliant and eye-catchingly bold, Turnbloom’s drawings are sure to suck you in to the adventure of these two creative kids. They’re that real! ..The two friends in this tiny treasure are so reminiscent of that out-of-bounds Boy and his Tiger from Bill Watterson’s comic strip, Calvin and Hobbes.

From No Flying No Tights
…Although the plot itself is simple…the use of sequential art to tell the entire story is sophisticated and advanced for the target audience, making this a real standout. Comic conventions in picture books are nothing new—word balloons in particular—but graphic picture books are often fantasy, such as Kevin O’Malley’s Captain Raptor series and David Wiesner’s Caldecott Honor book, Mr. Wuffles. Here, author P.R. Allabach and illustrator Lucas Turnbloom have succeeded in creating a realistic picture book told entirely through sequential art for the very young. Children and adult readers alike will relate to the experience of the youngsters’ imaginative play, told through juxtaposed images of reality and imagination, such as when the cover image is seen inside the book opposite a panel of the two boys in costume “thoomp”-ing through the kitchen, while the back cover of the book shows the two costumed boys running toward a bedroom door with a sign that says “dragon’s cave” in childlike scrawl. Even the endpapers are in on the fun—the front endpaper features a pirate’s map, while the back shows a childlike hand-drawn version of the same locations. The digitally painted images are full of bright, bold colors and lots of visual humor. For instance, Dragon, bright blue with purple spikes on his back and a yellow stomach, looks incredibly goofy with his tail stuck on a tree, while in the panel below the young boy attempts to pull his costume tail off the twig of a bush. Meanwhile, redheaded Captain’s large glasses that magnify his eyes mirror the young boys’ perfectly, creating an adorably meek and timid looking ship’s captain. I would not often choose a graphic picture book for a story time read aloud, but I cannot wait to read Dragon and Captain at my library. With some strategic pointing and the use of different voices for Captain and Dragon, I envision this being great fun with a preschool or early elementary crowd. Of course, reading in a small group or one-on-one would also be a great opportunity for the child to do some of the storytelling by describing the images, providing an excellent chance to work on visual literacy skills. I hope we’ll get to see how the next adventure with that sea monster goes in another book with these great characters!”

From illustrator Lucas Turnbloom
[Dragon and Captain is] about two imaginative boys who think they’re a Dragon and a ship’s captain. They go on an epic backyard adventure to recover Captain’s lost ship from evil pirates. The book is designed to look like a graphic novel, and is very much in the spirit of
 Calvin and Hobbes. It was a lot of fun to illustrate! It is my hope that this will be my first of many picture books.

From Jennifer L. Holm, author of the Babymouse series
I love the concept, and the art is fabulous….

From Brian Anderson, Dog Eat Doug comic strip
…the transitions between imagination and reality…are perfect for the target audience.

From Kid Lit Reviews – 6 stars!
Debut author Allabach and award-winning cartoonist Turnbloom blend the picture book with the graphic novel for a unique experience.
Imagine a picture book partially written as a graphic novel. That image is Dragon and Captain, the story of two little boys who wake up one morning to confront a mystery—where is the Captain’s ship. Did the sea grab hold, dragging it far away, or did something more nefarious occur? While enjoying his breakfast, a blue-hued Dragon spies a red-haired pirate trespassing in his sandbox. Rushing out, Dragon confronts the intruder, “Hey, pirate. What are you doing in my sandbox?” “I’m not a pirate, good sir. I’m the captain of a ship.” “You look like a pirate.” Thus begins the wonderfully witty and whimsical, fantasy-filled, backyard adventure. Turnbloom’s graphite, ink, and digitally painted illustrations alternate between the boys’ imagination—told as a comic strip—and their reality—seen in traditional picture book spreads. The process enhances the story with vivid action, and gives the reader direct access to the young boy’s right-brained imagination and creativity. Captain and Dragon’s world is void of technology. A crayon drawing, a paper-towel tube, and a toy watch respectively become a map, a telescope, and a compass… I love that Dragon and Captain could ignite a child’s innate imagination, sans technology. I love that after reading Dragon and Captain, kids might see their surroundings as an adventure; everyday objects as imaginatively malleable; and reading as exciting and essential. Parents will enjoy reading Dragon and Captain to their children, especially after hearing their cries of, “I’m bored. There’s nothing to do around here.” Yes, there is something to do and Dragon and Captain will show the way. Kids will love the brightly colored illustrations by award-winning cartoonist Turnbloom, and the backyard fantasy-adventure, smartly written by debut author Allabach. Dragon and Captain is a terrific book for any “Books for Boys” list, yet girls will love it, too. Aye, matey, this girl adores both the Dragon and the Captain.

From South Sound Book Review Council
A fun romp celebrating the power of imagination.  Told in the style of a graphic novel, all the words and dialogue tell the story of a dragon encountering what he thinks is a pirate, but turns out to be a ship’s captain whose ship has been stolen by pirates, and they work together to rescue the ship.  The bright-colored illustrations go back and forth between images of what the boys see in their imaginations, and the prosaic realities of the boy in the dragon suit playing with the boy in the sailor’s hat in the backyard while the moms do laundry.

From OMazing Kids
I love the large illustrations and simple dialogue depicted on each page or two-page spread. This style of book also lends itself well to showing kids a sequence of events. It is also filled with lots of great vocabulary, verbs, adjectives, spatial concepts, predicting, inferencing, teamwork and imagination.

From Good Reads with Ronna
My curiosity is always piqued by books that contain maps inside their front and rear covers. Happily, Dragon and Captain has got ’em! Here’s why. Maps play a crucial role in this story, presented in comic-style format. This original picture book features two main characters who happen to be next door neighbors. It’s also clear the boys are friends who’ve played a pretend game of Dragon and Captain countless times, if Dragon’s map is any indication. Dragon, a boy in a dragon robe, and Captain, a boy with a tri-cornered hat, have their work cut out for them the morning the story opens. Captain, it seems, has lost his ship! Together, Captain and Dragon must brave the unknown by going through a forest, down a cliff and ultimately to the sea in their quest to find the missing vessel. Armed with a compass, a telescope, the map, and massive amounts of imagination, Dragon and Captain set off on a creative adventure (in the backyard) as their moms chat nearby. Dragon and Captain must foil a bunch of pirates’ plan to commandeer Captain’s ship. Can the duo stop this dastardly deed and get home in time for lunch? Well this reviewer won’t say, but you can probably guess the answer by the expressions on the boys’ faces in the illustrations below! Between Allabach’s pleasing prose and Turnbloom’s terrific artwork, the team of Dragon and Captain and their active imaginations come to life in this thoroughly enjoyable role playing romp. Picture books like this one should certainly spark children’s interest in inventing their own games of make believe.

From Children’s Literary Classics
Dragon and Captain is a real joy to behold. Told in comic book style, it is a quick and light read which is simply enchanting. But the crowning glory of this whimsical book is the illustrations which nearly steal the show from the witty humor penned within the pages of this delightful book. Author P.R. Allabach and Illustrator Lucas Turnbloom are quite a team as they depict a day in the life of two boys playing make-believe. Vivid illustrations charmingly depict the boys becoming immersed in a wild and daring adventure. As they don makeshift costumes the two are transformed into a life-like dragon and his wily companion, a ship’s captain.  Creativity runs rampant in this book which is sure to capture the hearts and imaginations of young children. Dragon and Captain comes highly recommended and has earned the Literary Classics Seal of Approval.

From Midwest Book Review
Dragon and Captain appears to be a children’s picturebook at first glance, but the story inside is told entirely in graphic novel format. Two young boys engage in imaginative play; one thinks of himself as a blue dragon, the other as an intrepid ship’s captain. Together, they embark on an adventure to win back the captain’s seaworthy vessel from thieving pirates! The colorful, cartoony art almost jumps off the page, in this high-spirited adventure sure to spark a smile.

From 1st Grade Reading
Dragon (aka a young boy) is eating his oatmeal when he spies a possible pirate on the beach (aka another boy in the sand box). Of course, Captain is not a pirate. He’s a ship captain who’s been separated from his ship. Dragon and Captain set out to find Captain’s ship and re-capture it from the real pirates. First, they need things from Dragon’s cave (er, bedroom). They trek through the dark forest (bushes) and stop at a waterfall (sprinkler). They spot the ship and defeat the pirates. Then it’s snack time. All the while, the grownups lurk in the background abut never interfere. The interaction between imagination and reality is brilliant. It will show kids that anything is possible. The illustrations are vivid and colorful clearly show how each boy resembles his alter ego. First graders will be able to tell the story from the pictures while still working on their literacy skills through the sparse text. The way the boys immediately get caught up in each other’s fantasies shows how easy friendship can be.

From Smarty Pants Magazine for Kids
this tale of creativity will keep your kids turning those pages until the very last word. The illustrations by Lucas Turnbloom are bld, brilliant, and engrossing – they tell their own tale that your kids will love! Flashlight Press has turned another story into a must-read for every kid-lit fan! 

About the Creators

Philip Allabach, Phillip, friendship, imagination, backyard adventures, maps, play, pirates, dragons, boys, make believe, adventure, dragon and captain

Phillip Allabach is the author of Dragon and Captain, illustrated by Lucas Turnbloom. He served in the US Army in Afghanistan and lives in Wilmington, North Carolina where he is a husband, a dad, and a small business owner. Dragon and Captain is his first picture book.



lucas turnbloom, dragon and captain, friendship, imagination, backyard adventures, maps, play, pirates, dragons, boys, make believe, adventure

Lucas Turnbloom is the illustrator of Dragon and Captain, written by P.R. Allabach. He is an award-winning cartoonist and illustrator best known for his comic strip, Imagine THIS, which is syndicated through Universal Press/Uclick. While working for several years as a feature artist for the San Diego daily newspaper, The North County Times, Lucas earned 16 first-place awards for his cartoons and illustrations. He was a contributing artist for Darkhorse’s Axe Cop graphic novel series, and Andrews McMeel Universal’s Eisner and Harvey award-nominated anthology, Team Cul de Sac: Drawing the line at Parkinsons. His work has also appeared in USA Today and TIME.com. Lucas was a contributing artist to the Peanuts’ 65th Anniversary Tribute Anthology, and the illustrator of a full-color graphic novel trilogy, Dream Jumper, written by actor Greg Grunberg, published by Scholastic. Turnbloom lives in San Diego, CA with his wife, two sons, and one scary raccoon who lives somewhere near his tool shed. Dragon and Captain was his first picture book.

Book Details

ISBN: HC 9781936261338  ePDF 9781936261772  ePUB 9781936261789  KF8 9781936261796
Print Length: 32 Full Color Pages
Publication Date: Spring 2015
Age Group: 4-8
Lexile Measure: 380L
Word Count:

Activity Guides & More

THEMES: friendship, imagination, backyard adventures, maps, play, pirates, dragons

    Leveling Information

    Lexile Measurements provided by Metametrics. Guided Reading Levels provided by Marla Conn using Fountas and Pinnel Guided Reading Text Characteristics.

    Lexile Display: GN490L

    Word Count: 567

    MSL: 5.67

    MLF: 3.579

    Decoding Display: Medium

    Semantic Display: Very High

    Syntactic Display: Medium

    Structure Display: Very High 

    Guided Reading Level: M

    Grade Level Equivalent: 2

    Interest Level by Grade: K-5

    Educational Description: Picture book, graphic text; speech bubbles

    Story Elements:

    setting: the backyard of Dragon’s house, plot and character development, young boy main characters, Captain and Dragon, problem and solution, figurative language: adages, “piratese”, humorous tone, illustrations enhance meaning and tone

    Comprehension Strategies: identify cause and effect relationships, make inferences, draw conclusions, sequence events, make text-to-world connections

    Themes: creative imagination, childhood, friendship, pirates and dragons