Thursday, October 25, 2012
Dragon Pick: The Last Dragonslayer
The Last Dragonslayer
by Jasper Fforde
Harcourt Children’s Books
Clever, cute, quirky and quaint, The Last Dragonslayer has everything: masterful storytelling, snarky dialog, a teen heroine who is equal parts brave knight, fearless leader, and mistress of sarcasm, magical beings, a Quarkbeast who is lovable if not huggable, a beat up 1958 VW, a missing wizard and a dying dragon.
The Great Zambini has been missing quite awhile, so Jennifer Strange, his apprenticed foundling, has taken over the reins of Kazam, an employment agency and old folks home for aging magicians, seers, and movers. Magic has been dwindling and there’s almost no call for it anymore, but Jennifer manages to keep the place running by sending magicians to unclog pipes and using magic carpets to deliver pizza. Then, something begins to happen. There’s a new electricity in the air and the magicians are feeling their powers surge. Some begin to experience visions that the last dragon will meet his end. Some whisper that Big Magic is on the horizon.
Jennifer has to deal with all the outrageous personalities of the live-in magicians and train her new foundling Tiger Prawns. Not only that, she’s destined for far greater things.
Quick witted dialog and puns run amok. For example, when Jennifer introduces her new assistant to some elderly sisters,
“”Tiger, these are the sisters Karamazov—Deirdre and Deirdre.’
‘Why do they have the same name?’ he whispered.
“An unimaginative father.’”
Never have I loved a dragon more! Maltcassion is an old dragon, still regal, and waiting for Jennifer Strange. He knows all about the world, magic, humankind and Big Magic, but he needs Jennifer’s help to ensure the “status quo.” After “meeting” Maltcassion, I want to know him personally—he’s that wonderful! And don’t get me started on Quarkbeast! He’s a living doll—just make sure you have plenty of dog food and metal for him to chew on!
Jennifer has her work cut out for her: she has to slay a dragon that she admires, avoid being thrown into the King’s dungeon, thwart a civil war, stop greedy land-hungry citizens from grabbing the Dragonlands, find the Great Zambini, save Kazam and the residents who live there, train an assistant, and figure out her destiny—and she only has until Sunday!
The first page will draw even the must reluctant readers in: “Once, I was famous. My face appeared on T-shirts, badges, commemorative mugs and posters. I made front page news…The Daily Clam called me ‘the year’s most influential teenager.’ Two people tired to kill me… (I)had fifty-eight offers of marriage, and was outlawed by King Snodd IV…in less than one week. My name is Jennifer Strange.”
Highly, highly recommended grades 6-up. No language. No sex.
FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.