Jane and the Dragon (A Dragon’s Tail) by Martin Baynton

Posted: February 26, 2010 in Fantasy
Tags: , , , , , ,

I am not entirely sure how many books there are in this series, or which is the first one (I believe this is), but after some research, what I found is that these stories were turned into a CGI animated show.

This explains the computer-ish looking illustrations in the book, at least, in the edition that I read. At the beginning, we have a nicely laid out cast of characters with each person’s name and portrait. This was helpful for me as I often turned back to see the person who was being addressed.

The author, Baynton, grew up getting in trouble at school for drawing cartoons in class. His best grades always came from his stories. At the age of thirty, he took these skills to the next level and became a published author. I believe he was 35 when Jane and the Dragon was released.

Story overview:

Twelve-year-old Jane is determined to be the first female knight. Her best friend is a dragon named “Dragon” and her rival is a fourteen-year-old boy named Gunder. He trains with Jane and often disagrees with her.

One day Dragon gets sick (with Curly Tail, a pig’s infection) so Jane goes on a quest to locate Skyleaf, which is a rare plant found in the mountaintops near the sea. Forced to take Gunter along, Jane eventually ends up trapped on a ledge with a long drop below.

Gunter goes for help, but not before Dragon learns of Jane’s trek. In his sickened condition he tries to find her before it is too late.

My thoughts:

I liked this one. Did not love it, but I liked it. At first, I thought it was a little too young for even my taste, but keeping with it eventually got my interest tweaked. I liked the short chapters–great for kids who want to read it on their own, and the illustrations were interesting.

Things to consider:

This was written for children aged six to nine. I think it would be good for an even younger age if the parent read it aloud. Nothing questionable that I would worry about; zero sexual references, no violence, and no real bad language (by “real,” I mean real-world). One might say, “Sounds boring.” I would agree had it not been for the humor, action scenes, and character tensions. This is good for girls and boys, perhaps a little more towards girls as she is the main character.

Opportunities for discussion:

Teamwork is one of the main themes here. Jane and Gunther had a hard time getting along as they always seemed to be competitive, but when push came to shove, they worked together for a greater and common goal. If you have more than one child, this would be a good time to help them to understand that: despite their difference, it is important for them to work together. If you only have one child, then extend this to incorporate friends.

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