No Such Thing as Dragons by Philip Reeve

no-such-thingCindy: Dragons? Who cares about dragons? I was beginning to think there was no such thing as a tightly written adventure story with great characters, brilliant writing, and a well-paced plot anymore. Thank you, Philip Reeve, for No Such Thing As Dragons (Scholastic, 2010). Take one con-artist dragon hunter who doesn’t believe in dragons but pretends to hunt them to avoid real soldiering that involves killing, add a mute assistant destined to be a hero, a scaredy-cat friar and a young girl offered in sacrifice to the mountain’s dragon and sit back and watch what a tale Reeve can spin.

With beautiful language and a trim 185 pages, this story will make a good read-aloud. One of the things I liked best about this book was that the heroes quake in their boots just as much as the villagers who send them off to hunt the dragon. The friar begs to be allowed to return to the village and round up an army, priests, anyone, just not him to do the hunting. And, Else, the young girl left on the mountain-top in sacrifice, would help mute Ansel if she could:

But she was a sensible girl. She knew the difference between real life and stories, and she knew that bravery like that would only end up with both of them in the dragon’s belly. And even more than she wanted to help Ansel, she wanted to live. She edged away backward over the snow, thinking, Poor little scrap.

That’s my kind of hero…one who knows her limits.

Lynn: Yes! Yes! Imagine me jumping up and down in agreement with Cindy – except for caring about dragons. Of COURSE I care about dragons! OK, I can grudgingly see that a few strange people might not. Whether you do or don’t, this short exciting book delivers SO much. First it turned my assumptions upside-down so often I got dizzy. Just as I was thinking smugly that this was a twist on the usual dragon-fighting hero story, Reeve yanked the rug out from under me and my assumptions again. Delicious! Now add characters that are richly developed with exquisitely understandable flaws. There is scarcely a complete villain to be found here. Doubly delicious! Then add the examination of some truly intriguing issues like courage, fable vs. fact and sacrifice for the greater good and you’ve got a lot packed into a few pages. All this is woven into a really exciting story complete with danger, battles and suspense. A real treat!

I too think this would make a terrific read- aloud with great discussion possibilities including predicting, foreshadowing and red herrings. I gave my arc to a friend who teaches 5th grade in a building without a library or librarian and I’ll report back on what his kids think. I’m betting we’ll have thirty thumbs up.

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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

1 Comment on "No Such Thing as Dragons by Philip Reeve"

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  1. hhtavffstt@hotmail.com' aljsfgtrw says:

    the book is really good

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