Today’s pick: Dragon Seer’s Gift by Janet McNaughton
HarperCollins Canada, 2011
From the publisher:Bored by homework and bullied at school, twelve-year-old Gwyn Rae reluctantly takes on a Heritage Fair project to boost his history mark. He begins to investigate the papers of his ancestor, Daniel Rae, with help from his older sister, Maddie. Together they discover a notebook filled with writing only they can see and an iron key that seems to react to their touch. When the key unlocks a secret door in an old church, Gwyn and Maddie are launched into the adventure of their lives.
My Take:It’s interesting the way the author tied magic and dragons to history. This is not a fast-paced story, but I was intrigued by Daniel and Maddie’s special abilities and wanted to keep reading to find out more. I liked the way Daniel and Maddie were depicted as part of a family, with their parents having a presence in the story. The bullying and environmental issues in this story make it a good book for discussion in a classroom.
As a writer, I liked the idea of bringing history into fiction. I thought the dialogue was realistic and studied the way the author was able to tell so much of the story through dialogue.
Favourite quote:“Real magic is a force of its own, like the force of nature. It works as it wants to, not as humans would have it work.”
Other Info:Janet McNaughton lives in Newfoundland. Dragon Seer’s Gift is set in her own neighbourhood in St. John’s. You can take a visual tour of some of the places in her book on her website.
This book is nominated for the Ontario Library Association's Forest of Reading in the Silver Birch category for 2013. [I have previously featured some of the other nominees: Cat Found by Ingrid Lee, A Tinfoil Sky by Cyndi Sand-Eveland and The Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis.]Dragon Seer's Gift also won the IODE Violet Downey Book Award and was named as one of three honour books for the Canadian Library Association's Book of the Year for Children in 2012.
On her website, the author says: “I'm very happy to be able to spend my time writing. I usually can't wait to get to work in the mornings.”
Other books by this author include:
An Earthly Knight
The Secret Under My Skin
The Raintree Rebellion
Catch Me Once, Catch Me Twice
Make or Break Spring
The Saltbox Sweater
To Dance at the Palais Royale
For more about Janet McNaughton, check out her website.