Archives

Lights Out, Little Dragon!

Lights Out, Little Dragon!

Lights Out, Little Dragon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lights Out, Little Dragon!

Debra Tidball

Rae Tan

HarperCollins, 2024

32oo., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781460763421

My little dragon is so tired, but he won’t go to sleep.

What can I do?

The theme of getting a little one to go to bed and to sleep is common in books for our youngest readers, but what sets this one apart is the role reversal of the main character and that the reader is invited to become actively involved in the story by helping the little girl to persuade Little Dragon that is is bedtime and that means settling down.  

Rather than counting sheep, Dragon wants to play with them and they’re exhausted so the reader is asked to trace a path for them to escape; they get to use their big-people’s voice to tell him to go to bed; and help out with counteracting all the strategies that Little Dragon uses – strategies that they, themselves, will be familiar with.  They help find Dragon’s lost dinosaur; blow away the loud-thought clouds that keep him awake; tickle his tummy;  groan at his antics in the bathroom; even turn the light on and off… Sometimes, trying to put a little one to bed can be exhausting.

While the child will engage with L:ittle Dragon’s antics and relate to the little girl’s situation and language because they, themselves, will have heard it before, the adult sharing the story with them will enjoy the subtle humour as they discuss what Little Dragon might try next and how the little girl might deal with it. Fun and engaging.

Dragons of Hallow (series)

Dragons of Hallow (series)

Dragons of Hallow (series)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dragons of Hallow (series)

Spellhound

9781761180057

Fledgewitch

9781761067365

A & U Children’s, 2024

352pp., pbk., RRP $A17.99

The first in this series begins… There are Three Great Secrets in Hallow, a country that loves secrets almost as much as it loves green jellybabies. No, I’m not going to tell you anything more about them. I am a loyal citizen of Hallow, and would never betray—
Oh, you have jellybabies?
Green ones?
Well, I suppose I could tell you a little more.
Come closer. Open your ears and your heart, and pass the green jellybabies.
I will tell you a story about an enormous magical pup, a child Queen and a very small minch-wiggin with the unfortunate title of Destroyer-of-Dragons…

And continues with a tale of “falsehoods, fortitude and friendship” about how a minch-wiggin, a Queen, and a rather large magical pup need to find the dragon that has turned their worlds upside-down-even if it means revealing all they want to keep hidden…

Two years later in Fledgewitch, life has moved on and Queen Rose is now twelve, and ruling Hallow with the Regent, Uncle Edwin and this story centres on ten-year-old Brim taken by Count Zaccar and Countess Xantha  to the School for the Prevention of Witches  because are the three Laws of Quill, carved in stone outside every town hall, and learnt by every schoolchild:
There shall be No Witches.
There shall be No Dragons.
There shall be NO SECRETS.

But Brim, despite having feathers sprouting from her elbows, and being the only one who can remember Snort, the Horned Glob, doesn’t believe she is a witch, one to be feared and outcast because of their dangerous, evil ways.

And so the story unfolds in a tale deeply rooted with themes of family, faith, loyalty and courage with engaging characters who display all those traits that we expect as they are pitted against dastardly, devious villains.  With its length, its seemingly unrelated stories  as well as the twists and turns in the plot, and the opportunity to put clues together if they are picked up, this is a series for fantasy-loving independent readers looking for something to sustain them over long winter nights, best read in order and best to read the first to establish the characters and their history and relationships – although these may not be what they seem.  

For those who want to know more about the author and how the series came to life, read this Q&A

 

 

Dragon Towers

Dragon Towers

Dragon Towers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dragon Towers

Pip Bird

David O’Connell

Farshore, 2024

160pp., pbk., RRP $A15.99

9780008641863

Ten-year-old Theo LOVES dragons. In fact, he is obsessed by them and he knows every dragon type, has every dragon book there is and has even made his own Dragon Rider jacket. So when he gets his letter inviting him to dragon school it’s a dream come true.

At Dragon Towers every child is paired with their very own dragon best friend, and every dragon has their own special magic power, from fire-breathing to going invisible and even making slime. Theo can’t wait to find out what type of dragon he has. But when he meets his dragon Wanda she doesn’t seem to have any powers at all…

A recent query about books about dragons for a young reader obsessed with dragons revealed that this is a much sought-after topic, particularly among boys in middle primary who are perhaps imagining themselves as the hero that Theo dreams of being at the beginning of the story before he is rudely awakened by his mother. Complete with all the fantastic creatures that one would expect to encounter as well as the adventures and quests as the young students aspire to be First Riders like the famous Ada and Faust, this is one for those transitioning to longer novels but still needing some of the supports of stepping stones.

With the next episode, The Ghostly Surprise, not due until late September this could be one to give to your dragon fanatics to decide whether it is a series worth collecting for the library.  As well as feeding their interest, they will have a reason for reading. 

 

The Secret Lives of Dragons

The Secret Lives of Dragons

The Secret Lives of Dragons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Secret Lives of Dragons

Prof Zoya Agnis

Alexander Utkin

Flying Eye, 2023

64pp., pbk., RRP $A24.99

99781838741174

“Deep in the cold mountains of a distant land, there was once a magnificent kingdom of dragons. The songs of dragon families echoed across its peaks, and priceless treasures were hoarded in its caves. But what happened to this kingdom?” 

From stories like The Paper Bag Princess to the drama of Smaug’s arrival in the opening scenes of The Hobbit, both before and beyond, dragons have been a common entry to the world of fantasy for our young readers, sparking the imagination to go on wondrous adventures. For some, just being engrossed in the particular story is enough, but for others, there is a desire to know more and for them, this book is the answer.

It contains everything a curious mind wants to know to become an expert Drackenosopher just like the esteemed author, Zoya Agnis.  Through clever illustrations and readily accessible text, they can learn to identify the different dragon families, name the most fearsome dragon slayers, the bravest of Drackenosophy scholars and everything else there is to know about the beautiful dragons that we share our planet with.

About 20 years ago, there was another series of books like this (this series also includes The Secret Lives of Mermaids  and The Secret Lives of Unicorns) and it became the perfect vehicle for transitioning young readers into the world of non fiction as we took a topic they were fascinated by and started exploring information books.  In fact they came up with the slogan, Fiction = Imagination; Non Fiction = Information, something I have used in many instances since then. This would serve the same purpose. 

Whenever I make a storybook cushion or a journal or author kit featuring a dragon, I know I will only have it for a short time, such is the popularity of these fantastic beasts. Adults and children snap them up immediately, such is the fascination with and popularity of this creature.  So this is the perfect book to be the centrepiece of a display and promotion featuring fantasy promising to take readers on magical adventures as well as for The Year of the Dragon. A must-have if you have fantasy lovers amongst your readers. 

Three Tasks for a Dragon

Three Tasks for a Dragon

Three Tasks for a Dragon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three Tasks for a Dragon

Eoin Colfer

P. J. Lynch

Walker Books, 2023

32pp., hbk., RRP $A32.99

9781529505825

After his father’s ‘accidental’ death at sea, his stepmother Queen Nimh and stepbrother Prince Delbayne invoke ancient Lagin law that only those who can summon the mysterious wolfhounds can become king, and Prince Lir is to be banished from his beloved homeland forever. The prince is a scholar not a warrior and acquiesces to his fate, but in an apparent act of generosity, Prince Delbayne pleads his stepbrother’s case and it is agreed that if Prince Lir can complete an ancient quest he will be able to return. 

Thus Prince Lir finds himself on a mission to rescue a young maiden being held captive by the dragon Lasvarg on his island, not realising that it is all part of a devious, malicious plan and dark magic concocted by his not-so-nice brother to ensure that Lir never returns to assume his place on the throne… But then, Delbayne does not realise that brains can overcome brawn… 

Created by two who have each been the Irish children’s laureate, this is a story reminiscent of the quests of old, drawing the reader into the fantasy of kings and queens and dragons and maidens needing to be rescued  with its twists and turns in the plot while its superb illustrations bring times gone by to life.  You can almost envisage this as a Lord of the Rings-esque movie, and while it has the traditional good versus evil as its underlying theme, because Prince Lir keeps his father’s words “The trick to it… is to work with what is around you,” it has a refreshing new perspective because rather than trying to trick the dragon and kill it to save Cethlenn, Lir uses his brains to cure the dragon’s ailments caused by the mould in his damp cave, mend his broken wing, and restore his fire-breathing powers,

, forming a partnership that eventually outwits and outlasts Nimh, Delbayne and even Lagin itself..

This is an illustrated novella that would make an ideal introduction to this genre as a read-aloud merging the traditional elements and feel of the classic quest with more modern themes.  

 

Our Family Dragon: A Lunar New Year Story

Our Family Dragon: A Lunar New Year Story

Our Family Dragon: A Lunar New Year Story

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Family Dragon: A Lunar New Year Story

Rebecca Lim

Cai Tse

Albert Street Books, 2023

32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781761180637

Starting on  February 10, 2024 will be the Year of the Dragon in the Chinese calendar, and the family, like so many around the world, are making all the traditional preparations ready for this special celebration.  The house is clean so all the bad luck is outside with the rubbish, special foods have been cooked, and so much else has been done as the anticipation of the dragon’s arrival reaches fever point. 

The advent of the Lunar New Year is celebrated not just in Asia but around the globe as people from many nationalities honour the traditions and customs of their heritage and this new picture book is the perfect introduction to this time as its sense of expectation and energy builds through both words and pictures. As both a classroom teacher and teacher librarian, this was always one of the richest festivals to draw on, not just because of all the teaching and display opportunities that it offered but also because it touched so many children and their families. Then, as well as exploring all the possibilities that that topic offers, it can be extended into a broader investigation of how and when New Year is celebrated by the school’s families.

Many of our students will be starting the new school year with the excitement of such an important occasion looming, and this is a great way to share that joy as well as acknowledging their culture. 

 

A Chinese New Year display

A Chinese New Year display

 

Alex Neptune (series)

Alex Neptune (series)

Alex Neptune (series)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alex Neptune (series)

Dragon Thief

9781474999236

Pirate Hunter

 9781474999274

Monster Avenger

 9781474999298

David Owen

HarperCollins, 2022-2023

250+pp., pbk., RRP $A15.99

Alex Neptune lives in Haven Bay, a town whose history and currency is intertwined with the sea, and particularly the legends of the Water-Dragon and the pirate, Captain Brineblood, But Alex hates the sea because he is convinced it wants him dead and besides, strange things have happened to it since a mysterious factory was built and it is now so polluted that visitors no longer come to the town, let alone support the family gift store Neptune’s Bounty.  And what’s happening with the long-closed aquarium at the top of the hill which mysteriously glows green at night time?

This is new series for independent readers (best read in order for story continuity) that contains all the elements of relatable quirky characters, sea creatures that can talk and adventure that has  been described as  perfect “for fans of Percy Jackson and Dragon Realm”. With his tech-genius best friend Zoey, legend-lover Anil, and a sharp-shooting octopus, Alex discovers that he actually has power over his nemesis , the ocean, and embarks on a series of escapades that feature the town’s two legends, as he tries to save it from whatever is bringing it doom.

Full of action and embedded humour to lighten the mood, this is an entertaining read that has a powerful underlying message of how the ocean is being used by the unscrupulous for their own greed without regard for the consequences. From hating and fearing the ocean, Alex comes to appreciate and value it.  An eye-opener… 

Don’t Disturb the Dragon

Don't Disturb the Dragon

Don’t Disturb the Dragon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t Disturb the Dragon

Rhiannon Findlay

Siân Roberts

Puffin, 2023

32pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9780241562314

On Wingbeat Island, the princess’s little brother has learned to crawl and now she can’t find him.  So she sets on a quest to discover where he has got to but danger lurks on the journey…

Somewhere near, a huge beast lies,
with giant claws and great big eyes . . .
DO NOT DISTURB THE DRAGON!

From the author of the enchanting Ten Minutes to Bed series, this is a new adventure that takes little ones on a trek around the island, following the map and encountering things that may be the dragon – or not. It’s an opportunity to talk about what they already know about dragons so they can examine the pictures to see if one might be nearby as well as learning that sometimes things might not be as they seem at first glance… The princess takes her anti-dragon kit with her so using their knowledge of dragons they might speculate on what they would add to it to be safe and sure. 

The rhyming language and the repetitive text invite them to join in both the fun and the storytelling, as they help the princess on her mission through the forest replete with all the elements that spark the imagination like castles, stepping stones and toadstools, while the island itself has gloomy caves,  rapid rivers, enchanted fortresses and smouldering volcanoes, each offering an opportunity to suggest a new adventure in the future – as does the ending!   

Like Ten Minutes to Bed, this is a vibrant, engaging story that ticks all the boxes for engaging our youngest readers with the fun and joy of stories and because it is in print, they can return to it again and again. 

One Hungry Dragon

One Hungry Dragon

One Hungry Dragon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Hungry Dragon

Alastair Chisholm

Alex Willmore

Hachette, 2023

32pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99

9781444966602

Deep in a dark and gloomy forest, a creature stomps through the trees.

“I am Bernardo, “he roars, ” and I am ONE HUNGRY DRAGON!”

So look out anything that crosses his path including two silly sheep, three hearty heroes, four proper princesses, and a host of other characters straight out of the fairytales of the young readers this is designed for.  But is it the end of the world for all those he swallows or is there a twist in the tale?  Maybe even more than one twist?

Despite Bernardo’s antics, this is a laugh-out-loud book rather than a scary one as both the illustrations and the climax will just delight little ones as they join in the fun, roaring with Bernardo, counting forward and back and learning about the delights of the picture book format.  

If the popularity of any of my storybook cushions featuring dragons is anything to go by, the attraction of dragons in stories remains unabated and this is the perfect addition to the collection. 

How to Hatch a Dragon

How to Hatch a Dragon

How to Hatch a Dragon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Hatch a Dragon

Nick Bland

HarperCollins, 2023

32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

 9781460764053

Bunny has bought his best friend Bird a present.  Carefully, he takes it out of the box and places it on a large rock telling Bird it is a dragon egg, and he knows that because he bought it from the dragon-egg shop.  

Bird has a few questions about his gift so together they sit in front of the rock and work their way through the instructions.  Meanwhile, behind them…

This is the first in a new series for our youngest readers that not only celebrates friendship and fun but is also going to teach them so much about stories, reading and how to use the words and the pictures together because in this story, all the action is happening in the illustrations!  As Bunny is sharing what he is learning from the instruction sheet, magical things are happening in the background that they are oblivious to, but which the astute reader will be marvelling at.  It’s a bit like the old=time pantomime where the lead characters are unaware of other goings-on and the audience has to shout out warnings! Don’t be surprised if that is what your young reader does!

As well as engaging the readers in such a clever way, this has the potential to really open a child’s reading journey because Bland is also the author of the series that began with The Very Cranky Bear which will be familiar to so many so this offers an opportunity to discuss authors and how we often choose new reads because we have enjoyed the author’s work before.  Conversely, if the little one likes How to Hatch a Dragon it offers the opportunity to search out other titles by the same author.

It also introduces the concept of a series to little ones so they can be encouraged to think about what they learn about Bunny and Bird from this story so when the next one is released, they can be prompted to recall that and focus their thoughts and energy into enjoying the next episode.  

Bland says he always wanted to be a cartoonist and a writer, but it wasn’t until he was in his 20s and got a job at a bookshop and then read “every picture book that hit the shelves” that he finally discovered his own style and how to put being both storyteller and illustrator together.  Our youngest readers are so glad that he did.