Dragonbreath by Ursula Vernon, 146pp, RL 3
I have been meaning to review Ursula Vernon's Dragonbreath series since it first came out in 2009. I held off for a while, waiting to see if it would be released in paperback after coming out in hardcover and, happily, it is! And so is book 2, Dragonbreath: Attack of the Ninja Frogs. Sadly, books 3 - 8 in the series are not yet in paperback. What drew me to the Dragonbreath series right away is the fact that it is part traditional novel and part graphic novel like my all-time favorite trilogy, The Fog Mound by Jon Buller and Susan Schade. Vernon's books are great because they are a bit shorter and less complex and perfect for readers ready to move on from chapter books like Magic Tree House and Junie B Jones but not quite ready for the longer, more complex books. Even though Danny is a dragon, he's the only mythical creature at a school full of reptiles. And he can't breath fire - yet, which tends to get him picked on by bullies led by a Komodo Dragon, of course. Danny's best friend is an iguana named Wendell who wears thick glasses and an expression that "said he expected the worst to happen at any moment." Wendell has a dry retort for almost everything and is a great foil to Danny's over-the-top-imagination and belief that anything is possible. When Danny writes a science report on the ocean during his bus ride to school the day it's due (he writes about Snorklebats, which are rare and elusive) he gets an F and a new assignment.
Danny's mother suggests that he visit his cousin Edward, a sea serpent. Interestingly enough, there is a bus that goes to the Sargasso Sea after stopping at the mall but before the stop at the community college and the library. Once they get there and ring the bell that summons Edward (who has really nice eyes - sorry I couldn't find an illustration to share) Wendell pulls out his breath mints. Not for bad breath, but for giving breath for an hour or two under water. How cool is that? That's the kind of thing you can expect from Vernon in this series - a creative imagination to rival Danny's and a sense of humor expressed through Wendell. Wendell gets squirted by a sea cucumber (his response - "I feel violated") Edward takes them past the Lost City of Atlantis, to a sunken pirate ship and, unfortunately, into the tentacles of a giant squid. While Danny doesn't summon the flames he is always hoping for, he does manage a bubble of steam that stuns the squid into releasing them. The adventure earns him an A on his rewritten paper and the courage to face down Big Eddy -this time.
Dragonbreath #2 - 10