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GRUFFEN by Chris d’Lacey


The Dragons of Wayward Crescent

by Chris d’Lacey & illustrated by Adam Stower

Age Range: 7 - 10

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-545-16815-1
Publisher: Scholastic

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)