Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Dragon Fantasy Books

52684106Tsang, Katie and Tsang, Kevin. Dragon Mountain (#1)
October 6th 2020 by Sterling Children's Books
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Billy Chan has gotten an invitation to attend Camp Dragon, a cultural and language school in China, so his parents ruin his summer of surfing in California so he can get in touch with the Chinese half of his heritage. Once there, he meets an assembly of children from around the globe and "Old Gold", the man who runs the camp. There are lessons and activities, but also a series of competitions. The children are divided into groups of four, and Billy gets put in with Charlotte, a blonde, girl from the US South who is very competitive, Dylan, who hails from Ireland, and Ling-Fei, who is from the area and well acquainted with Old Gold and his grandson, JJ. When the four fail to complete their first scavenger hunt because they are attacked by a tiger who disappears and then get caught in an earthquake, they find that when they return to camp, no one believes them! Ling-Fei realizes that during their adventure she has lost a necklace her grandmother gave her, and the group goes back to retrieve the family heirloom. They find that the earthquake seems to have split the mountain, but the reality is even more serious-- they have opened the portal between the Human Realm and the Dragon Realm! Moreover, they find four dragons who claim that they must bond with the four humans in order to gain more power to defeat the Dragon of Death and the Noxious. Clothed in suits made of dragon cloth and able to ride on their dragons Tank, Buttons, Xing and Sparks, our heroes set off to save both realms. They face all manner of challenges, and find after some triumphs that they have a nemesis all too close to home. This is the first book in a purported three books series.
Strengths: I have a LOT of conversations with students about why dragons are awesome and what they are looking for in books about dragons. It's always worth having a solid collection of dragon books in middle school libraries, but especially important now that Tui Sutherland's Wings of Fire series has creative a large fan base. Dragon Mountain is tailor made for young readers who secretly want their own dragon. First of all, this begins at a school. There's a whole sub genre of fantasy books with "academies" that my students like. I love that this one is set in China (they have the best dragons!), and that the cast is multicultural. This is well paced, and moves us right along. The bonds with the personalized dragons will delight dragon fans, and cause a fair number of playground reenactments among younger reads; middle schoolers stick to fan art, and I'm sure I'll get some. It's rare that as I read through a book I think "Yep. Kids will like that. And that. And that." I wonder if the authors talked to actual young readers! Great stuff. Also, the twist at the end was fantastic.
Weaknesses: I was hoping that this would skew a little older, and some of the bonding with the dragons will appeal more to elementary students than 8th graders. Nice job of spanning a good age range, though. It'll be interesting to hear students' comments about this.
What I really think: Definitely purchasing, and hope this does well enough that all three books get published!
Zhao, Katie. The Fallen Hero (Dragon Warrior #2)
October 13th 2020 by Bloomsbury USA Kids
E ARC provided by Netgalley.com

After The Dragon Warrior, there was no doubt that there had to be a sequel, and I suspect there will at least be one more volume in this series.

I like the characters and the rich background of Chinese demons and dragons, but my fantasy amnesia (or the 95 degree day on which I read this) kicked in, and I am at a loss to provide details. Dragons are popular in my library right now, so I will purchase this, but wish that there were fantasy books that did NOT come in series.

From Goodreads:
Faryn Liu thought she was the Heaven Breaker, a warrior destined to wield the all-powerful spear Fenghuang, command dragons, and defeat demons. But a conniving goddess was manipulating her all along...and her beloved younger brother, Alex, has betrayed her and taken over as the Heaven Breaker instead. Alex never forgave the people who treated him and Faryn like outcasts, and now he wants to wipe out both the demons and most of humanity.

Determined to prevent a war and bring Alex back to her side, Faryn and her half-dragon friend Ren join the New Order, a group of warriors based out of Manhattan's Chinatown. She learns that one weapon can stand against Fenghuang--the Ruyi Jingu Bang. Only problem? It belongs to an infamous trickster, the Monkey King.

Faryn sets off on a daring quest to convince the Monkey King to join forces with her, one that will take her to new places--including Diyu, otherwise known as the Underworld--where she'll run into new dangers and more than one familiar face. Can she complete her mission and save the brother she loves, no matter the cost?


  1. What age is this best for?

  2. Ages 8 and up would be fine with these both. Solidly middle grade.