Friday, September 9, 2011

Girls Don't Always Stink: There's No Such Thing As Ghosts

The newest Dragonbreath book by Ursula Vernon appeared on our radar, so the library delivered it to my son's shelf. And then I read it as well, a week or so after both boys gave it a thumbs up. Although No Such Thing as Ghosts (Dragonbreath) doesn't carve much new territory, it delivers on its promise of a clever and funny story told in a seamless blend of pictures and text (not a graphic novel, but a book where the illustrations advance the story as much as the words do) with strong and consistent characters.

The new character is Christiana, a girl from Danny and Wendell's class. She's a crested lizard with a science background matching Wendells and a stubborn streak as long as Danny's. She's also a confirmed skeptic who refuses to believe Danny is a dragon and who provides much needed common sense when the three lock themselves in a haunted house while trick-or-treating. In modern Scooby fashion, the initial rational explanation proves insufficient, and the kids have to handle some actual supernatural beasties. I especially like the kid-level tone, which has the same intensity of feeling when the children confront losing their Halloween candy as when they face off against possibly lethal monsters. I also appreciated a much lower level of girl-cootie comments; the boys have matured a bit since their outing with Suzi and the ninja frogs. We'll probably keep grabbing these as Vernon keeps writing them.

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