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Dragonsdale: No. 1
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Gr 3-5-Cara is the daughter of the Dragonmaster at the renowned Dragonsdale training farm. She works with dragons every day, mucking out their stalls, caring for their harnesses and tack, and tending the new hatchlings. But her father has forbidden her to do the one thing she wants to most in the world-fly on one-because her mother was killed in a fall. She has bonded with the most unruly dragon in the stables, Skydancer, who refuses to be trained, ridden, or cared for by anyone other than Cara. When a wealthy and cruel girl decides that Skydancer will be her next dragon, Cara is forced to choose whether to obey her father or save the creature she loves. Though this book is set in a fantasy world, it most closely resembles horse books for girls. It is filled with adventure, perils, and triumphs that will keep young readers avidly involved. Full-page black-and-white drawings and spot art are scattered throughout. This story may not be breaking new ground in fantasy literature, but it is a warm, friendly introduction to it that's perfect for young readers.-Tasha Saecker, Menasha Public Library, WI Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

Fantasy-minded girls with a love for horses will likely take to this story, first in a planned series, which uses the structure and tone of a horse-training tale but features dragons instead. Cara is the daughter of Huw the Dragonmaster, leader of the training farm called Dragonsdale. She has a deep love for dragons in general, and for the "untamable" Skydancer in particular-but her father has forbidden her ever to ride one since her mother died in a riding accident. The arrogant and lazy Hortense, daughter of wealthy Lord Torin, is trying to learn to ride, but her attitude prevents her from bonding with any dragons. When Cara catches Hortense beating her dragon after losing a competition, she blackens her eye, earning the ire of both her father and Lord Torin. To smooth the ruffled feathers of his valued customer, Huw offers Hortense her choice of dragons to take for her own-and, of course, she chooses Skydancer to spite Cara. That ends badly too, and Cara ends up rescuing Skydancer (and flying him in the process). Large portions of the book are devoted to the workaday stable duties at a "dragon farm" and to the day of the big competition-it is in both of these sections that the similarities to horse fiction are particularly strong. But the element of the fantastic, a nifty die-cut cover and Marklew's exuberant pencil illustrations should endear this book to girls who dream of riding great, beautiful creatures-of one sort or another. Ages 9-12. (May) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

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