Book Review: Dragonbreath, by Ursula Vernon (Dial Books, 2009)
Recommended for ages 8-12
Ursula Vernon's first book in her Dragonbreath series introduces readers to Danny Dragonbreath, a young dragon who happens to be the only mythical creature in a school filled with reptiles and amphibians. He's a little rebellious, not a fan of schoolwork, and really wants to be able to breathe fire (if for no other reason, than to stop hearing his father's motivational speeches). His best friend, Wendell, is an iguana who finds himself sucked into Danny's crazy schemes when he'd rather be doing something safer, like getting Danny to do his homework.
In Dragonbreath, Danny flunks his paper on the ocean after writing it the morning it's due and making it up from his own imagination. Luckily for him, he's got a sea monster cousin named Edward, who he can visit and from whom he can get an ocean tour, so off he goes, dragging Wendell along with him. Can they survive the deep ocean, where giant squids are known to show up without notice? Will Danny pass his Science paper?
Dragonbreath is a great book for younger readers that are still getting used to chapter books; the book is written in a half-chapter, half-graphic novel format that readers will find user-friendly, and Vernon provides a copious amount of nonfiction information about ocean life through Danny's and Wendell's eyes that will show the kids that learning can be fun.
Vernon's website provides summaries of all the Dragonbreath novels as well as her other titles, as well as updates on author appearances and her artwork.