Gr 5–8—Fast-paced, action-driven, stand-alone stories. In Dragon, Andy is shunned at school because of the images on his arms: a dragon-shaped birthmark on one and a tattoo of a blond girl who looks remarkably like a fellow student on the other. He shifts into his dragon form when he comes upon a group of boys beating up another student, but later learns all is not as it seems. In Duel, 15-year-old Sam returns to the tower in the woods where his parents kept him chained after school because they were afraid of him. There he meets three other teens with dragon-shaped birthmarks similar to his own. One of the boys, Jager, challenges Sam to a fight to determine leadership of the group by changing into his dragon form. However, their battle is sidelined when a fiercer beast appears. The large font, ample spacing, and full-page illustrations make these titles a clear choice for reluctant and struggling readers, though they will likely crave more details and there doesn't seem to be an overarching goal or quest for the dragonblood teens as of yet. Striking full-color illustrations reflect the dark tone of both books, with characters in shadow more often than not. Discussion questions, writing prompts, and glossaries are included, as are dossiers on the main characters. Overall, acceptable additions to hi/lo collections, particularly those low on fantasy titles.—Amanda Raklovits, Champaign Public Library, IL
Michael Dahl is the prolific author of the bestselling Goodnight Baseball picture book and more than 200 other books for children and young adults. He has won the AEP Distinguished Achievement Award three times for his nonfiction, a Teacher's Choice award from Learning magazine, and a Seal of Excellence from the Creative Child Awards. And he has won awards for his board books for the earliest learners, Duck Goes Potty and Bear Says "Thank You!" Dahl has written and edited numerous graphic novels for younger readers, authored the Library of Doom adventure series, the Dragonblood books, Trollhunters, and the Hocus Pocus Hotel mystery/comedy series. Dahl has spoken at schools, libraries, and conferences across the US and the UK, including ALA, AASL, IRA, and Renaissance Learning. He currently lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota in a haunted house.