Friday, November 15, 2013

Dragonbreath: The case of the toxic mutants by Ursula Vernon

I almost never review sequels and most kids' series I stop reading after the first book or two. Every time a new Dragonbreath book comes out, I tell myself "well, this will be the one where it stops being funny." This is book 9 and I have to say...

It's still funny and Ursula Vernon is amazing.

So, Danny Dragonbreath (the only mythical creature in a school of reptiles who's still working on his fire-breathing skills) collects his friend Wendell (complete geek, afflicted with a health food-addicted mother and a best friend who likes, ugh, adventures) and his frenemy Christiana (super logical, doesn't believe in dragons. Or fairies, even after the whole kidnapping episode) and goes to see grandfather Turlingsward. Not Danny's favorite activity, because his grandfather is the epitome of all that is grumpy and kid-hating. Danny is even more upset when they arrive and it turns out they're going to have to do some detective work; Grandad's dentures have been stolen. For a dragon the size of a house, that's a seriously large theft.

Things look up right away though, when mysterious creatures start appearing and disappearing and they discover there's been a lot of mysterious thefts. Even though Wendell and Christiana make Danny go to the library to do, gasp, research, it turns out to be more fun than he expected when he discovers an awesome book about detectives through the ages. Danny comes up with an idea to trap the thief and when the three follow him down a dark tunnel (Wendell isn't happy about this, but he's even less happy about having to tell his mom his new retainer was stolen, so he goes along) they discover an awesomely terrifying world of toxic mutation.

Vernon is as wackily hilarious as ever with snarky asides on everything from pre-regulation hospital toxic waste to respecting (or not, as the case may be) the elderly. Not to mention yard decorations, pack rats in little hats, and the triumph of reality over logic. If you haven't read Dragonbreath before, it's what I think of as a blended graphic novel, with short comics, art, and speech bubbles integrated into the text.

Verdict: You don't have the whole series? Why the heck not? Get out there and fill it in right away. You might want to buy a couple extra copies of the first book while you're at it. This is my go-to series for parents who want their kids to read "real" books when the kids adamantly want to read comics. It's also great for kids who like wacky humor, it's an amazingly easy series to booktalk, and even down the line as far as book nine can still make me laugh. Every library should have a complete set of Dragonbreath!

ISBN: 9780803738478; Published 2013 by Dial/Penguin; Purchased for the library; Purchased for my personal collection

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