Readers who delve into this title will find their interests piqued; they’ll be ready to move on to other works that explore...



Need an introduction to many of the creepy creatures of legends and fantasy books? Look no further—this alphabet book of monsters provides the need-to-know information.

Letter by letter, former U.S. Children’s Poet Laureate Lewis announces each creature, describing it with a brief stanza. “K is for Kraken // Of all the legends of the sea, / sailors and fishermen agree / (if they lived to tell my tale!), / I could wrestle shark or whale.” Supplementing this are a few paragraphs that provide succinct information including the monster’s origins, cultural significance and other amusing facts. Kelley's paintings are often darkly evocative and sometimes funny, rounding out the presentation. From the ubiquitous dragon, Frankenstein (both the monster and the doctor) and werewolf to the lesser-known quetzalcoatl, roc and Xing Tian (a headless giant of Chinese legend), readers will come away with a greater appreciation for the wide range of monsters—be they of the air, water or mountain—that have spooked humans for years.

Readers who delve into this title will find their interests piqued; they’ll be ready to move on to other works that explore these menacing fantastical beings more fully. (Informational picture book/poetry. 6-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-58536-818-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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With plenty left to be resolved, the next entry will be eagerly sought after.


From the Dragon Masters series , Vol. 1

Drake has been selected by the king to serve as a Dragon Master, quite a change for an 8-year-old farmer boy.

The dragons are a secret, and the reason King Roland has them is a mystery, but what is clear is that the Dragon Stone has identified Drake as one of the rare few children who have a special connection with dragons and the ability to serve as a trainer. Drake’s dragon is a long brown creature with, at first, no particular talents that Drake can identify. He calls the dragon Worm. It isn’t long before Drake begins to realize he has a very strong connection with Worm and can share what seem to be his dragon’s thoughts. After one of the other Dragon Masters decides to illicitly take the dragons outside, disaster strikes. The cave they are passing through collapses, blocking the passageway, and then Worm’s special talent becomes evident. The first of a new series of early chapter books, this entry is sure to attract fans. Brief chapters, large print, lots of action, attractive illustrations in every spread, including a maplike panorama, an enviable protagonist—who wouldn’t want to be a Dragon Master?—all combine to make an entertaining read.

With plenty left to be resolved, the next entry will be eagerly sought after. (Fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 24, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-64624-6

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Branches/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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Good, solid fantasy fun.


From the Dragons in a Bag series , Vol. 1

Nine-year-old Brooklynite Jaxon meets a witch, becomes her apprentice, and protects baby dragons all in one eventful day.

As the story opens, Jaxon and his mom are being evicted. While Mama tries to secure a place to stay, she leaves him with Ma, the woman who raised her. Ma clearly doesn’t want Jaxon around, but it becomes apparent that’s at least partially due to a mysterious package she’s received. Jax soon discovers that Ma’s a witch, his mom used to be Ma’s apprentice (a mantle he takes up), and that Ma’s package contains…baby dragons! The dragons need to be taken to the magical realm, but a transport malfunction strands Ma while Jax is sent back to Brooklyn. Desperate to save Ma, Jax enlists the help of his friend Vikram, whose little sister, Kavita, tags along. Curious—or is it nosy?—Kavita discovers the dragons and does the worst: feeds them. This not only increases their size, but bonds them to her. Thankfully, Trub, Jax’s maternal grandfather, is a magic user and helps Jax find Ma and get the dragons to the magical realm, where (discerning readers won’t be surprised) they discover one dragon is missing….What a breath of fresh air: a chapter-book fantasy with an urban setting, an array of brown-skinned magic wielders, and a lovable black protagonist readers will root for and sympathize with. Geneva B’s black-and-white illustrations depict a cast of color and appear every few pages.

Good, solid fantasy fun. (Fantasy. 6-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-7045-7

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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