Action-packed and full of reader-directed asides, Kress's sophomore novel follows in the footsteps of its predecessor, Alex and the Ironic Gentleman. Here, Kress introduces 11-year-old Timothy Freshwater, who, newly expelled from school, stumbles into an internship at his father's company (in a building nicknamed the "Tall and Imposing Tower of Doom"). There he meets Mr. Shen, ostensibly a mail clerk, but in actuality, an ancient Eastern dragon forced to take human form and act as a servant to whoever holds a golden key. Unwittingly and somewhat unwillingly, Timothy ends up helping Mr. Shen get to China-with a ninja, pirates and a fleet of black cabs in hot pursuit-so that he can return to his dragon form. (Among others, Timothy gets some help from Alex and the crew of the Ironic Gentleman.) Brief chapters keep the story moving, and Timothy's general surliness and sardonic observations, particularly in contrast with Mr. Shen's courteousness and Alex's daring, make for plenty of comic moments (Timothy's "last thought" before plunging into the ocean after being pushed from a plane is "Whatever"). A spirited follow-up. Ages 8-12. (Jan.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Timothy and the Dragon's Gateby Adrienne Kress
It turns out the
Timothy Freshwater’s father can’t control him, his mother is always out of town, and now the boy too smart for his own good has been expelled from the last school in the city. After he meets Mr. Shen, a mysterious Chinese mailroom clerk at his father’s office, Timothy winds up in more trouble than he has ever gotten himself into.
It turns out the diminutive Mr. Shen is a dragon. Forced to take human shape for a thousand years, Mr. Shen cannot resume his true form until he scales an ancient Dragon’s Gate during a festival for the 125th year of the dragon. Now Timothy finds himself Mr. Shen’s latest keeper: stalked by a ninja, and chased by a menacing trio of black taxicabs. And when Mr. Shen falls into the wrong hands, Timothy must rescue the dragon from a fleet of Chinese pirate junks. All hope seems lost until a strange-looking black brig with red sails called the Ironic Gentleman appears on the horizon. Relying on his own ingenuity and an annoying new ally, a girl called Alex, Timothy must take on the fleet and its evil commander, the Man in the Beige Linen Suit. Told in Adrienne Kress’s distinctive, sparkling prose, Timothy and the Dragon’s Gate is a humorous and astounding story about a boy who ultimately uncovers his own ability to love and opens his heart to the world around him.
- Weinstein Books
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.90(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.30(d)
- Age Range:
- 8 - 12 Years
Meet the Author
Adrienne Kress is a graduate of the University of Toronto and has studied at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts. Her work has been performed at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, among other venues in Canada and the UK. Following in her family tradition, Adrienne has also been a drama teacher, focusing on eight-to-twelve year olds.
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In ¿The Secret Garden,¿ Frances Hodgson Burnett created Mary Lennox, a snarky, attitude-filled brat who finally got a clue.
Why am I talking about a 97-year-old classic when this review is supposed to be about Adrienne Kress¿ new book, Timothy and the Dragon¿s Gate? Go with me here. Timothy¿s favorite response to just about anything is, ¿Whatever.¿ If Mary Lennox were dropped into the modern world, I¿d bet money that ¿Whatever¿ would be hers as well.
Timothy isn¿t an underachieving punk. Just the opposite: he¿s brilliant, insightful, and bored. Adults can¿t deal with his intellect and attitude and he¿s been expelled from every single school in town. His dad is ineffectual, his mom is off pursuing a mediocre acting career. When Timothy has to accompany his dad to work because no sitter will come within a mile of him, he falls into an internship for his dad¿s reclusive boss.
Oh, about the dragon. And the gate. And all the possible adventures that combination conjures up. One might think Timothy¿this unlikable eleven-year-old snot¿makes the combination doomed to failure.
Don¿t be fooled. As Kress did to Alex in her first book, ¿Alex and the Ironic Gentleman,¿ Timothy is thrown into danger and adventures. He has to rely on his intellect to make it through¿with the dragon in tow. (Abandon hope. I¿m not going to reveal it. About the dragon, that is. And that¿s why I can¿t quote my favorite line: the dragon says it, and I¿d spoil the plot.) In the process, Timothy messes things up to a point where he admits he can¿t blame his weak father, his absentee mother, his teachers, or anyone but himself.
No, no, no. Don¿t groan. There are no heavy-handed Moral Lessons for Today¿s Youth here. (Thank you, Ms. Kress!) Instead, there are ninjas. Fish-herders. Architects who may not be what they seem. (Fish-herders and architects. I swear. What fun!) There are pirates, too, of course. Along with mysterious Chinese gambling-house owners and three black taxicabs that shouldn¿t be able to do everything they do. And I guessed wrong on the identity of the secret villain. I love it when books surprise me.
What makes Timothy and the Dragon¿s Gate stand out is Kress¿ ability to give us an unlikable hero and charm us into rooting for him. Timothy doesn¿t turn into a sweet little angel after all his adventures. He¿s still himself, but like Mary Lennox, he gets a clue. Kress has the knack of writing child characters who could be my next-door neighbors. Then she mixes them up with delightful fantasy and just enough danger to keep me turning the page to see how they succeed¿or temporarily fail. It¿s not spoiling the book to reveal that it has very satisfying ending.
I¿m a cynical horror writer who runs from sweetness and light like, well, like a dragon¿s chasing me. (I couldn¿t resist.) But like ¿Alex and the Ironic Gentleman,¿ Timothy and the Dragon¿s Gate charmed me into staying up way too late to finish it. No syrup here. Instead, there¿s adventure, derring-do, attitude, and danger. All wrapped up in a clever and fascinating take on the reluctant hero, courage, loyalty, and¿of course¿dragons.
Don¿t miss it.