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Forgive me if this seems vague, I remember the story barely but would love to read it again if I ever found it/was helped to find it. I distinctly remember that they give the dragon pizza, and he replies, "Peat-zah?!" I also remember that he has to go through a rift or to a island to return home? He was in a parade like the Macy's Thanksgiving parade and gets helium put in him.

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  • Hi, welcome to SF&F. Where and when did you read this? Do you recall what the cover looked like? Was it a paperback, hardcover, or e-book?
    – DavidW
    Dec 14, 2023 at 3:57

1 Answer 1

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This sounds like Backyard Dragon (1993) by Betsy Sterman and Samuel Sterman. Quoting from a review:

Imaginative, lonely fifth-grader Owen isn't unlike the boy who cried wolf: when he reports a dragon in his backyard, the police are skeptical. Still, Owen's mourning widower grandfather, who's been withdrawing from the world a bit more each day, investigates the boy's claims. A wizard has accidentally sent the dragon into the 20th century; now both wizard and dragon need the help of Grandpa, Owen, and all Owen's new friends to get back to the age whence they've come. The scheme involves a trip to Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade.

Wyrdryn, a dragon, has been accidentally banished from historic Wales to present day New Jersey by a wizard named Gwilym. (The banishing was intentional, but not when.) Owen discovers Wyrdryn behind his garage and introduces Wyrdryn to his grandfather and his friends.

As part of an effort to feed Wyrdryn, they introduce him to pizza:

The dragon put his long snout down and sniffed. "What is this oozy cartwheel called?"

"Pizza," Owen answered.

"WHAT?" Wyrdryn roared angrily. "Peasants warm their huts with peat! They foul the countryside with its smoke! You would have me eat something made of PEAT?"

"No, no," Owen said quickly. "It isn't made of peat. That's just its name—peet-zah. It's good, honest it is."

Gwilym shows up a day or so later, looking for Wyrdryn, but they discover his magic won't work to return them:

"So what do we do now?" Mitch asked. "If Gwilym's magic won't work in New Jersey, where does that leave us?"

"It leaves you snug in this kingless ridge where you belong," the dragon went on sadly, "but Gwilym and I are cut off forever from our home, a land where the very air crackles with magic."

If Wyrdryn could fly back to Wales with Gwilym, they could return through time from there:

The wizard frowned thoughtfully. "Tis likely there are many in Wales who even now believe in the ancient powers of magic," he said. "Yes, I doubt it not. Were we there today, my magic would leap from my wand and fling us back through the years."

But they discover that Wyrdryn can't fly; somehow the banishment spell chains him to the ground. Still, if he could somehow initially get airborne, he would then be able to fly and he and Gwilym could fly to Wales:

"He's the one that's stuck," Pam said. "Oh Wyrdryn, if we could just unstick you from the ground, I bet you'd fly as good as you used to."

Gwilym glanced up at the huge wings folded on the dragon's back. "You are correct, young lass," he said. "If only he could be lifted free, so that no part of him touches the earth, then indeed he would be able to fly."

Hence they decide to sneak Wyrdryn into New York City for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, where they plan to hook him up to enough helium balloons to get him up into the air.

"It'll be a cinch to get him hitched to the balloons," he said, as much to himself as to Howie.

"Do you really think they'll be strong enough to lift him off the ground?" Howie asked.

Owen tried to sound confident. "Sure," he answered. "And once he's up and clear of the buildings, all he has to do it open his wings and fly away.

Of course there are all kinds of issues with officious people, not being able to find balloons, but eventually Wyrdryn gets hooked up, and the kids end up towing him down the parade route:

"Wrydryn!" Owen cried. "Where are you going?"

"To the Grand Procession!" Wrydryn answered, his eyes fixed steadily on the corner. "Tis my wish to be part of it!"

"Oh nooooooo!" Howie wailed.

Owen fought down a sharp stab of panic.

Wyrdryn in the parade? All by himself, without a crew of handlers? People would be sure to realize he was a real live dragon, and then what?

There was only one thing to do.

"Don't drop the ropes!" he shouted to the others. "We have to go with him into the parade!"

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