Friday, July 4, 2014

The Dragon's Boy

The Dragon's Boy
Jane Yolen
HarperCollins, 1990  120 pgs
Grades 3-6

Thirteen-year-old Artos is smaller and weaker than the other boys.  No one pays him much attention to him or gives him much respect.  While chasing a loose dog one day he stumbles into a secret cave where he meets an ancient and mysterious dragon.  The dragon takes Artos under his wing and imparts his vast knowledge and wisdom.  Through a jewel given to him by the dragon Artos acquirers his first sword and through the wisdom offered Artos begins to gain confidence and respect from his peers and elders.   Further lessons are learned on a journey to a fair with his new friends, where he continues to mature and learn about the world for himself.  Upon his return Artos seeks out the dragon again.  Once reunited with his magical friend secrets are revealed; both concerning the true identity of the dragon, as well as the parentage and true identity of Artos.  Artos struggles with the revelations, finally excepting them, and in turn, his own destiny.

The Dragon's Boy is a variation on the legends of young King Arthur.  Arthurian legends are a special interest of mine and The Dragon's Boy is a great contribution to the genre for young readers.  Jane Yolen, one of the best and most prolific writers for young people ever, is no amateur.  She stays true to the original legends, while offering something fresh and approachable to young readers.  It is a great read for those not familiar with the legends and may encourage young readers to dip more deeply into the Arthurian genre.  The book is short, reads fast and has enough action to keep the readers turning pages.  It will appeal to boys more than girls, but girls will like it too.  Smart kids especially will be drawn to this book.  The Dragon's Boy looks like a fantasy, feels like a fantasy, but isn't a fantasy, so although fantasy lovers would enjoy it, it wouldn't work for a fantasy book report.  Dragons, swords, wrestling, rule breaking, independence;  this book has a lot going for it and is well written to boot!  Kids may not pick up The Dragon's Boy on their own, but will be hard pressed to stop reading once they start.

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