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Children's LiteratureFans of the genre of fantasy will enjoy this story. In fact, once they start reading it, they probably will not be able to put it down. The descriptions make the story so real they allow the reader to envision every scene. The third paragraph begins, "In the darkness, nothing stirs. The dragon lies as still and silent as a graveyard skull." The setting is an English countryside where a boy named Michael has four gifts bestowed upon him by the dragon. As the story progresses, he learns that others also were given gifts. These gifts make him face and deal with a great conflict within himself. Will he keep secrets he has learned from others that will free the dragon, or will he help his family try to destroy the evil that lurks beneath the earth. A page-turner with an English accent—Stroud uses words like "walkabout" and "parcels"—the adventure is absorbing and the author does an outstanding job of keeping the reader guessing. Great for school and classroom libraries, and would make a perfect gift for a fantasy buff. 2004 (orig. 1999), Miramax Books, Ages 9 to 12.
—Kathie M. Josephs