HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON

Facing sneering peers, plus a cave full of vicious young dragons and two mountainous, malign adult ones, brings an ordinary Viking lad around to becoming a “Hero the Hard Way” in this farcical import. Dispatched to capture and train some breed of dragon as a rite of passage into the Hairy Hooligan Tribe, unprepossessing Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III returns not with a mighty Gronkle, or an aptly named Monstrous Nightmare, but a shrimpy creature laughingly dubbed “Toothless”—who also turns out to be about as trainable as a cat, with an attitude to match. But Hiccup and Toothless develop into a doughty team when two humongous, fire-breathing Sea Dragons pull up to shore, looking for the odd village or army to devour. Cowell adds lots of jagged, William Steig–like sketches to a narrative rich in dragon muck, cartoon violence, and characters with names like Snotlout and Dogsbreath the Duhbrain. Her genuinely fierce, intelligent, and scary dragons nearly steal the show, but Hiccup and his diminutive sidekick ultimately come out on top, both displaying a proper hero’s mix of quick wit, courage, and loyalty. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: May 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-316-73737-2

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2004

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A sensitive, moving debut.

THE UNICORN IN THE BARN

When 11-year-old Eric Harper begins caring for an injured unicorn, his life is changed by the choices he makes, the relationships he forms, and the secrets he uncovers.

Eric lives with his family on land that has belonged to Harpers for generations and shares a special bond with his grandmother. One day, Eric spies what he thinks is a white deer but quickly realizes is a white unicorn. Filled with the “most amazing feeling of comfort and happiness and excitement,” Eric follows the lame unicorn to the farmhouse his ailing grandmother recently sold to Dr. Brancusi, a veterinarian, and her daughter, Allegra. (All three characters appear to be white.) Dr. Brancusi senses Eric’s concern and asks him to help her treat the unicorn. Discovering the unicorn is pregnant with twins, Dr. Brancusi warns Eric they must keep her hidden until the babies are born and hires him to assist. Eric’s affinity to the unicorn deepens, and when she’s threatened and runs away, he frantically searches. In the end, although Eric experiences loss, he gains a special family connection. Despite the presence of supernatural creatures, Eric’s quiet, genuine, first-person voice tells a realistic story of family love and discovering one’s true self, the presence of the unicorn and other magical creatures adding just a touch of whimsy to a story about very real emotions, revealed in Green’s black-and-white illustrations.

A sensitive, moving debut. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: July 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-544-76112-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2017

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THE DRAGON’S EYE

THE DRAGONOLOGY CHRONICLES, VOLUME ONE

From the 'Ology series

In this paint-by-numbers spin-off from the popular Dragonology (2003) and its many progeny, Steer pitches two young apprentice dragonologists into a struggle between scientific dragon researcher Dr. Ernest Drake and his unscrupulous rival, Ignatius Crook, for control of a powerful talisman. Thrilled to discover not only that dragons exist, but that their absent parents have actually been off in India for the past four years on a secret dragon rescue project, impulsive Daniel and his spunky sister Beatrice are repeatedly ambushed, captured, threatened and tricked by Crook and his evil Russian ally Alexandra Gorynytchka, while trailing Dr. Drake in search of a gem that’s one of 12 hidden “treasures” with assorted magical properties. Unabashedly pandering to rabid dracophiles, the author has dragons, though supposedly rare, popping up continually in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, and also gives his learned Doctor no compunctions about taking timeouts for lectures on dragon lore. Though illustrated with full-page, elaborately detailed views of characters and creatures, this outing is not only trite, it lacks the visual appeal of its “nonfictional” predecessors. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-7636-2810-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2006

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