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From the Dragon Masters series

A good resource for established fans.

An informational guidebook to the characters and worldbuilding of the Dragon Masters series.

It seems that Griffith of the Green Fields, the royal wizard of the kingdom of Bracken, wants to compile his wizardly research and wisdom into a book, so he has enlisted his friend “Tracey of the West” to pull together a Dragon Masters guidebook from his notes and the contributions of his other friends. The book is primarily organized into illustration-heavy two-page spreads consisting of maps, character profiles (with plenty of information on each Dragon Master’s type of dragon, of course), important objects, and snippets of the world’s history. The diversity among Dragon Masters is foregrounded. The book explicitly states that the Dragon Masters come from all over the world (which is reflected in their racial presentations in the full-color illustrations as well as the cultural notes and illustrations of the regions they come from). Furthermore, some have disabilities, as they are no barrier to a person’s becoming a Dragon Master; all candidates need is to “have good hearts.” Though most profiles provide plenty of context clues as to any given character’s ethnicity and their kingdom’s real-world analog, a map placing characters on continents shaped like Europe, Africa, Asia, and Oceania erases ambiguity. There is an inescapably “It’s a Small World”–esque feel to it all, but it certainly means well. The informational format works well for reluctant and below–grade-level readers, and it will help maintain interest in the series for maturing readers more inclined to game guides than fiction.

A good resource for established fans. (Fantasy. 6-10)

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-54034-5

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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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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An effort as insubstantial as any spirit.

Eleven-year-old Maria Russo helps her charlatan mother hoodwink customers, but Maria has a spirited secret.

Maria’s mother, the psychic Madame Destine, cons widows out of their valuables with the assistance of their apartment building’s super, Mr. Fox. Madame Destine home-schools Maria, and because Destine is afraid of unwanted attention, she forbids Maria from talking to others. Maria is allowed to go to the library, where new librarian Ms. Madigan takes an interest in Maria that may cause her trouble. Meanwhile, Sebastian, Maria’s new upstairs neighbor, would like to be friends. All this interaction makes it hard for Maria to keep her secret: that she is visited by Edward, a spirit who tells her the actual secrets of Madame Destine’s clients via spirit writing. When Edward urges Maria to help Mrs. Fisher, Madame Destine’s most recent mark, Maria must overcome her shyness and her fear of her mother—helping Mrs. Fisher may be the key to the mysterious past Maria uncovers and a brighter future. Alas, picture-book–creator Ford’s middle-grade debut is a muddled, melodramatic mystery with something of an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink feel: In addition to the premise, there’s a tragically dead father, a mysterious family tree, and the Beat poets. Sluggish pacing; stilted, unrealistic dialogue; cartoonishly stock characters; and unattractive, flat illustrations make this one to miss. Maria and Sebastian are both depicted with brown skin, hers lighter than his; the other principals appear to be white.

An effort as insubstantial as any spirit. (author’s note) (Paranormal mystery. 7-10)

Pub Date: July 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-20567-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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