FIREBRAT by Nancy Willard


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Like the Dickinson book reviewed above, a fantasy by a well-known author, following the familiar pattern of children as catalysts in a magical world--in this case, an underground kingdom discovered through an abandoned N.Y.C. subway stop. But while Dickinson transforms James' dump so that the readers can get a glimpse of ordinary things in a larger context, here Molly and Scan find a delectable crystal world in the power of an evil dragon--a world that contains echoes of the children's ""real"" life (a toy fire engine, a messy toom, reverence for the art of storytelling) but that is made interesting mostly by the imagery used to describe it--the adventure itself is predictable, its magical elements arbitrary, its revealed truths relatively minor. When the kids vanquish the dragon and come cozily back to Grandma, Molly has unaccountably become fond of her, though there is no reason to suppose that Grandma is any less boring than she was at the beginning. The imaginative kernel to the story seems no larger than dragon's heart they bring back with them--now reduced to a small, albeit golden, trinket. Inspired by the fine poster that appears as jacket art, the story never really grows beyond that visual image.

Pub Date: May 5th, 1988
Page count: 128pp
Publisher: Knopf