Selah returns with her weekly review – are you enjoying these as much as I am? Graphic novels are the perfect palate cleanser after a particularly draining book – not that draining books are always bad, just, well, draining.
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Selah’s Review of The Last Dragon
I love stories that do different things with typical types of characters, especially if they take their time and are well-illustrated. Needless to say, The Last Dragon by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Rebecca Guay hits all my buttons.
Hundreds of years ago dragons were defeated in the islands of May. Now they’ve come back and a pair of unlikely heroes have to find a way to defeat them. This story has so many different facets – there’s action, there’s hints of romance, there’s self-reflection, but all are done slightly different than what you’d expect in a typical fantasy story or fairy tale of this sort.
I love that it takes time to let us get to know the herbalist’s daughter Tansy who ends up being the lead – it’s her persistence and pursuit of information that really helps the islands and her village defeat the dragon, but it also doesn’t neglect her emotions, either, like in some fantasy stories with strong female leads. It’s not necessarily one or the other – it’s all in its own time. You really get a sense of her family and who she is before the problem of the book takes hold, which really serves the story well later on. Likewise, the hero is multi-faceted: he has the looks, the bravery, the resume…except that he’s actually better at telling stories about his pretend exploits and making kites than he is at heroing.
And yet, these two complement each other well, and each have strengths that help them to come up with a solution.
The reader gets a decent sense of Tansy’s life and how the village is, as well as how the dragon shows up and affects things. There’s a wonderful sense of progression throughout the story, yet it never seems to drag or too rushed. I love that this really drives home the point that anyone is capable of solving big problems, no matter who you are or what your strengths are.
The art is just gorgeous, as well, and fits the story, though sometimes it seems more like sketches than full illustrations. However, I was consistently transported, so for me it didn’t really post that big of a concern.
Age-wise, I think it’s pretty safe for readers of all ages – though younger ones will probably need help with some of the vocabulary. Overall, this is a strong YA title that’s especially good for girls who don’t want a typical princess narrative for the lead female character, but all types of readers can easily fall in love with the story and the art.
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