In this tale based on the imaginative webcomic, a young blacksmith finds herself welcomed into a society that cares for tea-leaf–producing minidragons.
With perky black pigtails, pink horns, and brown skin, Greta is training to be a blacksmith like her mother (who has large pink horns, brown skin, a nose ring, and impressive musculature). In their world, blacksmithing is dwindling in importance, although Greta’s mom strives to preserve the art. One day, Greta happens across a darling, small green dragon. She learns the dragon belongs to a dignified-looking bespectacled llamalike creature named Hesekiel. Hesekiel, his wheelchair-using partner, Erik, and the enigmatic, hooved-and-antlered, cotton-candy–tressed Minette make up what is left of the Tea Dragon Society, a group that forms close bonds with the dragons and harvests the tea leaves the creatures grow. The relationship between dragon and owner, much like tea harvesting, is one that requires patience and an appreciation for craftsmanship; that general feeling is apparent as O’Neill’s gentle offering languidly unfurls without much dramatic tension. As she did in Princess Princess Ever After (2016), O’Neill has composed a feel-good tale just right for middle-grade fantasy fans. In alluringly hued, manga-inspired illustrations, O’Neill’s diverse characters distray an array of different skin colors, orientations, and abilities. Helping to add depth to the worldbuilding is an excerpt from a fictional tome that explains the history of tea dragons and their individual characteristics.
Undeniably whimsical and extremely cute. (Graphic fantasy. 7-11)