by Laurence Yep and Joanne Ryder
First sentence: “
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Content: It’s short, there are lots of pictures, and the words aren’t terribly difficult. It’s a great bridge book between beginning chapter and middle reader, and good for ages 7 and up. It’s in the middle reader (grades 3-5) section of the bookstore.
Miss Drake, a dragon who has been around a long time, is happy with her lifestyle. Sure her “pet”, a human she calls Fluffy, recently died and she is grieving that. But when another human, the 10-year-old great-niece of Fluffy (aka Great-Aunt Amelia), comes into her life, she is not at all happy with it.
And thus begins the relationship between Miss Drake and Winnie. Sure, there’s a little adventure with a magical sketchbook and a rabid magic-eating monster, but mostly it’s about overcoming grief of the death of a loved one (Winnie’s father has recently passed away as well) and making friends.
My favorite thing is that it’s written from the dragon’s point of view. Beginning each chapter is a word of “advice” to magical creatures about how to deal with their “pets”, but the narrative is from the point of view of a very old, somewhat cranky dragon. It’s a clever take. That, and it’s blissfully short. Yep and Ryder know their audience, get to the point, and don’t bother putting in a whole lot of backstory. There are clues here and there about Miss Drake’s former pets and Winnie’s family (I’d like to read more about them in other books!), but there are no long-winded passages, no extra words. It’s refreshing.
My only complaint is that while there is a child character, the protagonist (and the one who propels the action, in the end) is the dragon. And that felt a little off. But other than that, it’s an enjoyable story.
(Just for the record: because this is a Cybils nominee, I’ve been asked to make sure y’all know this is my opinion only, and not that of the panel.)