Fantasy-minded girls with a love for horses will likely take to this story, first in a planned series, which uses the structure and tone of a horse-training tale but features dragons instead. Cara is the daughter of Huw the Dragonmaster, leader of the training farm called Dragonsdale. She has a deep love for dragons in general, and for the "untamable" Skydancer in particular-but her father has forbidden her ever to ride one since her mother died in a riding accident. The arrogant and lazy Hortense, daughter of wealthy Lord Torin, is trying to learn to ride, but her attitude prevents her from bonding with any dragons. When Cara catches Hortense beating her dragon after losing a competition, she blackens her eye, earning the ire of both her father and Lord Torin. To smooth the ruffled feathers of his valued customer, Huw offers Hortense her choice of dragons to take for her own-and, of course, she chooses Skydancer to spite Cara. That ends badly too, and Cara ends up rescuing Skydancer (and flying him in the process). Large portions of the book are devoted to the workaday stable duties at a "dragon farm" and to the day of the big competition-it is in both of these sections that the similarities to horse fiction are particularly strong. But the element of the fantastic, a nifty die-cut cover and Marklew's exuberant pencil illustrations should endear this book to girls who dream of riding great, beautiful creatures-of one sort or another. Ages 9-12. (May)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Children's Literature - Kathleen Foucart
In the first book in the "Dragonriders of Bresal" series, readers are introduced to Cara, a girl who wants to be a dragon rider more than anything. But ever since her mother died from a dragon riding accident, her father has insisted that Cara never be allowed on a dragon, even though he is the Dragonmaster and owns Dragon's Dale dragon farm. Cara spends her days training new stable hand Drane, assisting her friends Breena and Wony, and even helping the horrible Hortense, daughter of the High Lord Torin, and a girl who seriously mistreats any dragon she has ever ridden. After a fight with Hortense, Cara finds herself on the receiving end of a plot for revenge. Hortense is determined to have Cara's favorite dragon, Skydancer, for her own, or no one will be able to have him. Will Cara find the strength to help save Sky, even though it means going against her father's commands? In this new series the old tropes of horse stories for young girls are turned instead to dragon stories. Though the plotlines are familiar, the imaginative world and newness of the situation of dragon riding and showing will be enough to draw both fantasy and horse lovers to this series.
School Library Journal
Gr 2-5 -Cara's father is dragonmaster of Dragonsdale, a riding stable and school where the steeds are dragons rather than horse in this fantasy by Slamanda Drake (Chicken House, 2007). Cara longs to ride Sky Dancer, but her father won't allow her to ride any dragon because her mother was thrown from a dragon and killed. Even though he is wild, Cara is convinced that she would be successful because of the bond of trust between them. When Hortense, the local lord's haughty daughter, decides that she wants to own Sky Dancer, the tension mounts and comes to a head at the dragon riding championship. Jill Shilling reads clearly, with an identifiable and consistent voice for each character. Listeners will not have a problem with her British accent and the occasional Briticisms. Youngsters who enjoy horse stories will be enthusiastic and eagerly await a sequel.-Sue Giffard, Ethical Culture School, New York, NY Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.