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Synopses & Reviews
Jake Mendoza lives at the Makepeace Institute of Integrated Dragon Studies in Smokehill National Park. Smokehill is home to about two hundred of the few remaining draco australiensis, which is extinct in the wild. Keeping a preserve for dragons is controversial: detractors say dragons are extremely dangerous and unjustifiably expensive to keep and should be destroyed. Environmentalists and friends say there are no records of them eating humans and they are a unique example of specialist evolution and must be protected. But they are up to eighty feet long and breathe fire.
On his first overnight solo trek, Jake finds a dragonÂ—a dragon dying next to the human she killed. Jake realizes this news could destroy SmokehillÂ— even though the dead man is clearly a poacher who had attacked the dragon first, that fact will be lost in the outcry against dragons.
But then Jake is struck by something more urgentÂ—he sees that the dragon has just given birth, and one of the babies is still alive. What he decides to do will determine not only their futures, but the future of Smokehill itself.
"Set in a world nearly identical to our own — except for the existence of Draco australiensis (gigantic, reclusive, fire-breathing dragons who raise their infants in marsupial-like pouches) — this big, ambitious novel marks a departure of sorts for Newbery Medalist McKinley, whose previous works take place either in the realm of fairy tale and legend (Spindle's End) or the magical land of Damar (The Hero and the Crown). But fans will instantly recognize its protagonist, the tightly wound and solitary Jake, as classic McKinley. On his first-ever solo expedition in remotest Smokehill (the Wyoming dragon preserve and national park where he was raised), Jake stumbles across the single surviving newborn of a female dragon slaughtered by a poacher. Jake takes on the challenge of raising the orphaned creature, describing the process in minute and loving detail ('She was hopeless as a lapdog — the wrong shape, and she was too thick-bodied to curl properly — but she'd lie pretty contentedly on my bare feet, or behind my ankles — that's when she was willing... to lie down at all. She went on wanting skin [contact], and she still spent nights lying against my stomach'). When Jake attempts to reintroduce the dragon to her own species, a brave new era of dragon-human relations begins. One quibble: because Jake tells the story as a memoir, some climactic moments tend to be relayed at arm's length. On balance, McKinley renders her imagined universe so potently that readers will wish they could book their next vacation in Smokehill. Ages 12-up. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Dragons are extinct in the wild, but the Makepeace Institute of Integrated Dragon Studies in Smokehill National Park is home to about two hundred of the world’s remaining creatures. Until Jake discovers a dying dragon that has given birth—and one of the babies is still alive.
Jake lives at the Makepeace Institute of Integrated Dragon Studies in Smokehill National Park. There are five million acres of the Smokehill wilderness, and the endangered dragons rarely show themselves. Jake's never seen one except at a distance. But then, on his first overnight solo in the park, he meets a dragon - and she is dying. More than that, she has just given birth, and one of the babies is still alive. . . .
About the Author
Robin McKinley is the critically-acclaimed author of numerous novels, including Newbery Medal winner The Hero and the Crown and Newbery Honor winner The Blue Sword. Her vivid descriptions of life on a nature preservation that is home to over two hundred dragons will captivate and enthrall readers of all ages. She lives in England.
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