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Vol 1, Issue #3
"Stand By For Mars!"
March 2006

Children's Fiction Book Reviews
by Kathy Thomason

The Return of the Dragon
by Rebecca Rupp
Candlewick Press

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For Hannah, Zachary and Sarah Emily, it has been forever since they met Fafnyr, the dragon and heard his wonderful stories but has only been a year. The kids find out that they are getting an unexpected treat, their parents are going to Europe for an international Whale conference and the kids are going to the island to spend the summer with Aunt Mehitabel. But, a week before they are set to go, they get a letter from Aunt Mehitabel, she has broken her ankle and can't meet them at the island, but tells them that they will have a wonderful time anyway and to give Fafnyr her best. But when they get they find that a yacht anchored off the island and tents set up on the beach. Not sure what is going on, they sneak up to the cave to see Fafnryr again and he tells them a wonderful story about a young shepherd boy named Niko, who has to fight a monster that is killing animals on the mountain in Greece where he lives. The children were a little confused about the moral of this story but it gave them a lot to think about.

When they get back to the house they find the owner of the yacht waiting for them in the parlour and he tells them that he is a billionaire named J.P. King. He tells the children what a lovely island it is and would their aunt object to he and his people do some birdwatching, claiming he saw puffins on the island. When they tell him that they don't think their aunt would like that, he tells them that he will stay until he hears from their aunt. The children become alarmed when he starts asking them about the cave and write a letter to Aunt Mehitabel to let her know what is going on.

While playing in the old nursery, Zachery finds a picture of their aunt with a woman and a young boy with the inscription An Awful Warning. They write to their aunt to find out who the people in the picture are and while they are waiting here back, they decide to go talk to Fafnyr again. On the way to the cave, they have a run-in with J.P.'s people, who accuses them of spying on them. Mr. Chang, his manservant, tells the others to leave them alone and then tells the kids to go and not to return to the beach. They make it to the cave and settle down for another one of Fafnyr's wonderfully captivating stories, this one about a page who wanted to be a knight and the lesson he learns.

They finally get a letter back from Aunt Mehitabel, who tells them that she has informed Mr. King that he is to vacate the island immediately. She also tells them that the people in the picture are Anna Konig, a woman she met in China on a tour of archaeological sites. Believing her to be a kindred spirit, she dropped hints about Fafnyr and then one night, she found Anna prowling about the house, searching for clues and then she and her son began exploring the island! Anna talked of capturing you-know-who and of the immense riches and fame they could gain, Aunt Mehitabel told her that magical creatures didn't exist but right before they were to leave, her son Johann Pieter claimed he found clawed footprints in the sand on the beach. Since the tide had washed them away by the time they got down there, no one believed the boy. When they left, she kept the photo as a reminder to herself to be more careful in the future.

After reading the letter, the children decide to take a picnic lunch and see if the yacht is gone. But when they get there, not only is it still there, but J.P. tells them that Fafnyr is a great natural treasure and they should share him by allowing him to set up a nature preserve for him so everyone could see and share. After talking with him the kids are very confused, not sure anymore if keeping Fafnyr a secret is the right thing to do. So they decide to discuss it with Fafnyr the next day, who tells them a wonderful story about Sallie, a young girl whose family risked all to escape slavery in the south before the civil war.

Later that night, Hannah figures out that the little boy in the picture is really J.P. King and after talking over the story Fafnyr told them they fear that King won't just go away when they tell him no. So they decide the only safe thing to do is to have Fafnyr find another Resting Place. They head out the next morning to tell the dragon their decision and run into King and Mr. Chang. When they tell him they won't help him capture the dragon, he tells the children that they have no choice, he has a dart gun to tranquilize Fafnyr and they will lead him to the cave. Zachary and King headed out a brisk pace but Mr. Chang and the girls soon fell behind as Mr. Chang proved to be a very slow walker. When the girls urged him to hurry he told them to slow down, the slow pace was for the best and then he showed them his hand. And there in the middle of his palm was glittering fleck of gold, the mark of the dragon and he tells them that he befriended a dragon named Angwyn, saving her egg from an earthquake in China. He tells them they must trust the dragon to know what to do.

In this long-awaited sequel to The Dragon of Lonely Island we are once again taken on a magical journey not only to the tiny island to have fun with old friends, but thanks to Fafnyr we meet new people from other times and places through his magical stories that are so vivid you feel that you are there. With plenty of action and adventure this will surely delight children of all ages, including those of us who refuse to grow up.

Rebecca Rupp lives in Vermont with her husband, three sons, three cats, and tarantula named Immanuel Kant. She has written both fiction and non-fiction for adults and children. Some of her articles for national magazines have covered such diverse topics as the history of blue jeans to science of ice cream. She is also the author of The Dragon of Lonely Island and the sequel, The Return of the Dragon, and The Waterstone. She says the inspiration for Fafnyr was an invisible dragon she had as a child and hopes to be just like Aunt Mehitabel when she is 85.

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