Fans of How to Train Your Dragon will love this whimsical tale, the first in a series, by a Newbery Honor winner, featuring charming illustrations and pet “training tips” in each chapter.
Crusty dragon Miss Drake has a new pet human, precocious Winnie. Oddly enough, Winnie seems to think Miss Drake is her pet—a ridiculous notion!
Unknown to most of its inhabitants, the City by the Bay is home to many mysterious and fantastic creatures, hidden beneath the parks, among the clouds, and even in plain sight. And Winnie wants to draw every new creature she encounters: the good, the bad, and the ugly. But Winnie’s sketchbook is not what it seems. Somehow, her sketchlings have been set loose on the city streets! It will take Winnie and Miss Drake’s combined efforts to put an end to the mayhem . . . before it’s too late.
This refreshing debut collaboration by Laurence Yep, a two-time Newbery Honor winner and a Laura Ingalls Wilder Award winner, and Joanne Ryder features illustrations by Mary GrandPré.
Description taken from Goodreads.
The problem with and the joy of picking up books off of shelves after a cursory glance at the blurb is that you don’t always really know what you’re getting. After many a run to the library, I’ve encountered lots, and I mean lots, of books that weren’t for me. And I have encountered many truly amazing reads.
This is one of the latter.
A DRAGON’S GUIDE is a great read from the start. It is simplistically written, but the prose is beautiful and the world-building is unique and engrossing. It’s been a long time since I found a middle-grade fantasy that I’ve enjoyed so much. In a world primarily dominated by new titles, old authors continue to prove their expertise. All of Laurence Yep’s books (that I have read) are carefully thought out and well-constructed, and A DRAGON’S GUIDE is no exception.
While I did think that Maggie Stiefvater and Jackson Pearce’s Pip Bartlett’s Guide to Magical Creatures was fun and entertaining, A DRAGON’S GUIDE provides a kind of unmistakable charm that won me over from the first page. The characters are complex and interesting, and while this story is light-hearted, there are also some deep moments.
Middle-grade lit these days has often become this never-ending game of “let’s see who can be the most whimsical”. This method is tiring, and for many readers, it’s simply not enough. Traditional fantasy stories like these, with almost no fluff, stand apart from the rest, and I’m glad that stories like these continue to capture the attention of new audiences.
All in all, it wasn’t a five star. At least, not right at this moment. However, I did love this book and I will be rereading it. 4.8 stars.
pg count for the hardback: 152