Friday, June 23, 2017

The Secret Rescuers: The Storm Dragon by Paula Harrison, illustrated by Sophy Williams

I first heard of Paula Harrison when a family with internationally adopted children recommended her "Rescue Princesses" series to me. They said it was one of the few books they'd found that featured the diversity of their family in a princess-style story. The series has been very popular and I enjoyed promoting a series that featured a diverse array of characters.

Rescuing magical animals seems to be all the rage in beginning chapter books right now (well, always really) and I recently read through a whole stack. I've selected "Secret Rescuers" as my favorite and I look forward to adding it to the juvenile series next year.

Sophy is just an ordinary maid at the castle. She's often yelled at by the strict housekeeper, tries to stay out of the way of the cranky queen and her creepy captain of the guard, Sir Fitzroy, and rather misses the old king who seems to have been the only one who liked the magical creatures that are rumored to abound in the kingdom. As she's helping the garden boy, Tom, dispose of the king's old belongings she finds a bag of plain gray stones which she absentmindedly pockets.

Later in the day, while picking apples, she encounters her first magical creature - Cloudy, a lost baby storm dragon! She also discovers the pebbles are actually magical stones that enable her to speak with Cloudy - and maybe other magical creatures. A breathless chase is on as Sophy tries to complete her duties and keep Cloudy safe from Sir Fitzroy and all his men. Once she succeeds, a new world of adventure opens up to her as she sets out to explore beyond the castle walls.

Williams' black and white illustrations are soft and shaded, showing a sweet-faced blonde girl with an untidy braid, a cute baby dragon, and a medieval-style castle with guards and others sprinkled about.

This is a friendly blend of sweet, cute, and adventurous and is sure to charm beginning chapter readers looking for new series about magical animals and fantasy adventures.

Verdict: Of course this will be an instant hit with fans of Harrison's previous series. It's also likely to appeal to readers who like Daisy Meadows' series, as well as Kallie George's Magical Animal Adoption Agency and, a bit more of a stretch, to fans of Tracey West's Dragon Masters. A fun addition to any beginning chapter series section, although I do hope that Harrison will introduce more diverse characters in later books.

ISBN: 9781481476089; This edition published 2017 by Aladdin; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

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