Weigel - Book Reviews

***** - Excellent
**** - Good
*** - Okay
** - Bad
* - Terrible
+ - Half-star

Dragon Girl: The Secret Valley
Jeff Weigel
Andrews McMeel
Fiction, YA Comics/Fantasy
****

DESCRIPTION: Orphans Alanna and Hamel do their best to scrape a living from their late father's forge and the bounty of the forest. While foraging for food, the young girl stumbles across a strange little lizard with wings - a dragon, straight out of legend! It leads her to a cave full of eggs, and an adventure she never dreamed of... but, even as she revels in her discovery, the dragon slayer Sir Cedric pays a visit to Hamel, offering promises of knighthood and glory.

REVIEW: I read this when it was released online for free, but the full book includes additional material, notably an appendix of dragons and the flying machine Dragonfly that figures into the story. The images are detailed and delightful, and the story's a nice adventure with some real peril, even if the edges are slightly blunted (this is aimed at kids, after all.) Alanna's a decent protagonist, not above the odd mistake, but brave and good-hearted. Her brother isn't always on her side, but what he does, he does out of love and concern for their future. Cedric's fairly one-dimensional, though that's to be expected, I suppose. The dragons range from scaly puppies to threatening brutes of legend, though only when properly provoked. It's fun and well illustrated, and has every hint of future adventures beyond the horizon. Definitely worth a look if you like light, dragon-flavored adventure.

You might also enjoy:
Me and My Dragon (David Biedrzycki, YA Picture Book - A boy wants a pet fire-breathing dragon)
Cora and the Nurse Dragon (H. L. Burke, YA Fiction - Young Cora discovers a special dragon, one that makes her pet dragon eggs hatch wonders)
Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher (Bruce Coville, YA Fiction - A boy buys a dragon egg in a mysterious magic shop)
How to Train Your Dragon (Cressida Cowell, YA Fiction - Misfit Viking boy Hiccup struggles to train a stubborn dragon to avoid shaming his chieftain father)
Hatching Magic and The Dragon of Never-Was (Ann Downer, YA Fiction - A medieval wizard's wyvern familiar travels through a magical portal to modern Boston to lay her egg)
Dragon Rider (Cornelia Funke, YA Fiction - Threatened by Man's encroachment, a brave dragon sets out to find a legendary sanctuary in the Himalayas, with an irascible brownie and an orphan boy from London)
Step Inside Dragons (Gabby Goldsack, Nick Harris, and Richard Jewitt, YA Picture Book - A "3D" picture book, not quite a pop-up, about dragons)
The Dragonling series (Jackie French Koller, YA Fiction - A boy finds a newborn dragon in its slain mother's pouch)
George Grove and the Dragon (LJ Lawry, YA Ficton - Three South London boys find a dragon's egg)
John Ronald's Dragons (Caroline McAlister, YA Picture Book - The story of J. R. R. Tolkien's lifelong love of dragons, culminating in The Hobbit)
Dragonsong (Anne McCaffrey, YA? Fiction - A girl stumbles upon a nest of near-legendary fire lizards on the world of Pern)
Eragon (Christopher Paolini, Fiction - A farmboy finds a dragon's egg)
The Egg (M. P. Robertson, YA Picture Book - A boy discovers a dragon's egg in the hen-house)
The Dragon that Ate Summer (Brenda Seabrooke, YA Fiction - A boy finds a little blue dragon in his mother's garden)
The Dragonology books (Dugald A. Steer, editor, YA Fiction - Notes on dragon species from around the world)
How to Raise and Keep a Dragon (John Topsell, Joseph Nigg "editor", YA Fiction - The art and science of dragon ownership)
Voices of Dragons (Carrie Vaughn, YA Fiction - A teen girl befriends a young dragon while their races prepare for war)
The Dragon Machine (Helen Ward, YA Picture Book - A young boy starts seeing dragons everywhere)
Kasey And His Dragon (E. H. White, YA Fiction - A modern boy finds a dragon's egg, sweeping him off to his destiny in another world)
The Pit Dragon Chronicles (Jane Yolen, YA Fiction - A slave boy on Austar IV, young Jakkin steals an egg from his master to raise his own fighting dragon for the betting pits)

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