Thursday, December 10, 2009

Gruffen by Chris D'Lacey, illustrated by Adam Stower

The Dragons of Wayward Crescent are set in the same quasi-magical world as the popular Last Dragon Chronicles but are aimed at a younger audience.

Nine-year-old Lucy and her mother Mrs. Pennykettle live in a mostly ordinary house - except for the dragons. Mrs. Pennykettle is a potter and sculptor and, among other things, creates marvelous dragon sculptures. What no one but Lucy and Mrs. Pennykettle knows is that some are special; some are alive. When Lucy is scared by a mysterious shadow flitting about her room, her mom makes her a special guard dragon. After some initial mishaps, Gruffen catches the mysterious shadow, which turns out to be a bat. With the help of a bat expert and after a few more Gruffen-mishaps, the bats are given a safe home and Gruffen has fulfilled his mission to protect.

This beginning chapter book is on the older end of the spectrum, sprinkled with small black and white, slightly cartoonish illustrations, and focusing mainly on the text. Previous fans of D'Lacey may be interested in reading this short stories, but a reader who isn't familiar with D'Lacey's world may become bored by the lengthy explanations of the mechanics. There's a lot of foreshadowing, we'll get to it in another story-ing, and the frightening monster turns out to be another wildlife rescue project for Lucy and her mom.

Verdict: Kids who like gentle fantasy reads and animals with a little touch of humor and don't mind wading through a couple slow chapters will enjoy this, but it's not going to grab reluctant or easily discouraged readers. Kids who enjoy this series will probably also eventually like the series for older readers, which is more of the same with a little more drama thrown in.

ISBN: 978-0545168151; Published September 2009 by Orchard; Borrowed from the library; Purchased for the library

No comments: