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GRUFFEN

THE DRAGONS OF WAYWARD CRESCENT

Nine-year-old Lucy Pennykettle’s new guard dragon, Gruffen, discovers that the terrifying monster in her bedroom is really the shadow of a small bat in need of a better home. D’Lacey has brought back Lucy and Liz from The Fire Within (2005) and its sequels for this first of a new series aimed at much younger readers. Ceramic artist Elizabeth Pennykettle makes dragon sculptures; some, she brings to life. Created with a book in his paws, young Gruffen’s efforts to learn about his world through reading and exploration provide most of the narrative arc. This short chapter book has a series of conflicts that include Lucy’s night fears, a neighbor’s determination to get rid of the bats and the need to keep the dragon secret, but unfortunately adults resolve them all. The idea of a small guard dragon is undeniably appealing, but Stower’s inferior illustrations, the flat characters, shifting story line and the too-obvious message make this a disappointment. (Fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-545-16815-1

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2009

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RISE OF THE EARTH DRAGON

From the Dragon Masters series , Vol. 1

With plenty left to be resolved, the next entry will be eagerly sought after.

Drake has been selected by the king to serve as a Dragon Master, quite a change for an 8-year-old farmer boy.

The dragons are a secret, and the reason King Roland has them is a mystery, but what is clear is that the Dragon Stone has identified Drake as one of the rare few children who have a special connection with dragons and the ability to serve as a trainer. Drake’s dragon is a long brown creature with, at first, no particular talents that Drake can identify. He calls the dragon Worm. It isn’t long before Drake begins to realize he has a very strong connection with Worm and can share what seem to be his dragon’s thoughts. After one of the other Dragon Masters decides to illicitly take the dragons outside, disaster strikes. The cave they are passing through collapses, blocking the passageway, and then Worm’s special talent becomes evident. The first of a new series of early chapter books, this entry is sure to attract fans. Brief chapters, large print, lots of action, attractive illustrations in every spread, including a maplike panorama, an enviable protagonist—who wouldn’t want to be a Dragon Master?—all combine to make an entertaining read.

With plenty left to be resolved, the next entry will be eagerly sought after. (Fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 24, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-64624-6

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Branches/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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THE DRAGON THIEF

From the Dragons in a Bag series , Vol. 2

Despite missteps, this satisfying follow-up will leave readers hoping for more magical adventures with lovable Jax and...

Jaxon and his friends deal with the fallout from the theft of one of the baby dragons in his charge.

As this sequel to Dragons in a Bag (2018) opens, Kavita, the titular dragon thief, introduces elderly Aunty to stolen baby dragon Mo. Thankfully, Aunty knows someone in Queens who can help return Mo to the realm of magic. Meanwhile, and in alternating first-person chapters, Jax is trying to find Kavi and Mo, as Mo’s siblings have grown ill as a result of the separation, as has Ma, Jax’s magical mentor and grandmother figure. Jax again teams up with his best friend and Kavi’s older brother, Vik. A third is added to their crew with “huge” Kenny, “the biggest kid in [their] class.” (Unfortunately, much is made of Kenny’s size, which feels gratuitous and unkind.) Eventually the trio finds Kavi, Aunty, and Mo, who’ve been abducted by a magical con artist. All’s well that ends well when Sis, the powerful guardian of the magic realm, shows up, but readers may wonder why the narrative decides to grapple with her choice not to intervene in injustice in our world. Her argument that human-caused problems are for humans to solve feels undeveloped, especially in the face of a massive injustice like the trans-Atlantic slave trade (mentioned during the climax and at no other point). Jax is black; Vik, Kavi, and Aunty are Indian American (though Aunty has African ancestry as well); and Kenny is white. The rest of the cast is diverse as well.

Despite missteps, this satisfying follow-up will leave readers hoping for more magical adventures with lovable Jax and company. (Urban fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-7049-5

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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