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The Last Dragon (Dragon Speaker, 1)
A boy who speaks with birds is the only one who can save the last dragon...
In a time when it is dangerous to have magic and or believe in dragons, Jacob can hear birds speaking to him, and he is the only one who can hear--and save--the last dragon.
Jacob is an unlikely hero--his leg is disfigured and he walks with a limp; he is ostracized by most of his peers; he has low self-esteem; and he has a very uneasy relationship with his father. But the birds, a prophecy, and Jacob's friend Orson pull Jacob into an adventure that he'll never forget--where he creates new friendships, becomes a hero, and gains confidence and inner strength.
The Last Dragon is written for reluctant readers, but it can also be a fast, easy read for advanced and mature readers. The Dragon Speaker series from HIP Books are high-action fantasy novels written at a grade-3 reading level for reluctant readers in grades 6-10.
The series feature teenage characters and high-action stories, but with plots involving dragons, magic spells and an adventurous quest. For all the kids who carry around Harry Potter as a book prop, now there are fantasy novels that will bring them reading success.
The Last Dragon is the first book in the Dragon Speaker series; there are three in total. For a limited time, HIP Books is offering a free teacher's guide if you buy the set of 3 books.
"This slim book packs a lot of action and plot into its 111 pages. It did not include the lengthy explanation of the world into which the reader is being dropped that can bog down good fantasy books.
Instead, IMPORTANT THINGS start happening right on page 1.
The shortness of the book does make for a rather intense plot. Using a familiar setting and some familiar circumstances, Rainfield manages to tell a story that is original and engaging. I sped through it.
The short chapters (with about one illustration each) and the quick plot will make it easy for reluctant readers to get into the story, which is good since this book is a hi-lo (high interest, low vocabulary) book. Once I got into the book, I completely forgot that it was written specifically for reluctant or struggling readers."
-- Lawral the librarian. Read the entire review.
"The Last Dragon, by Cheryl Rainfield (H.I.P. Books, 2009, 111 pages) is exactly the sort of book that makes me happiest. You see, I have a nine-year old who enjoys reading, but is a picky reader, one who won't read anything that he finds at all intimidating. No Harry Potter for him, yet.
So when The Last Dragon arrived at our home, and he pounced on it, and sat and read it cover to cover, emerging at the end to enthuse about it, I was very, very pleased indeed.
I do know for certain that if you have a fourth grade boy who likes fantasy, and who needs encouragement to finish a book cover to cover, this one is a winner. Rainfield's crisp sentences and nicely (in the old fashioned sense of the word) honed story are spot on. And although the plot might seem not so fresh to a reader who has read thousands of fantasies, for a child like my son this is still new and magical territory."
-- Charlotte's Library. Read the entire review.
"Rainfield has written an intriguing fantasy that will have young readers dreaming of dragons and magic. Jacob may be an unlikely hero, but Rainfield has made him such a likeable one that readers will be intrigued to read the rest of the series to find out if he's successful against Lord Manning."
-- Lori Calabrese, Children's Book Examiner. Read the entire review.
"I read this book in one sitting! The author makes it easy for the reader to jump back to the 12th Century and the bonds with Jacob are almost instantaneous. Preteen boys will instantly see themselves (and their friends) in Jacob and Orson, and it is clear from the story's progress that they will "grow up" as they face new challenges. I would strongly recommend this book for both reluctant readers and older remedial readers.
Don't mistake this as a "boy book." Lia's role seems largely peripheral, but it is clear she plays a larger role later. Even without Lia, Orson and Jacob are realistic characters with whom all readers can find affinity.
Borrow or Buy: Buy. This is an exceptionally-written story and young readers will return to it. It is an outstanding choice for kids who like the magic that comes with fantasy stories, but are not ready (or interested in) "bigger" books."
-- Terry Doherty, The Reading Tub. Read the entire review.
"The Last Dragon by C.A. Rainfied is filled with black-hearted villains and unlikely heroes; this book packs powerful magic in a small space. Readers will cheer on Jacob, Orson, and Lia as they battle to save the last dragon."
-- Cinda Williams Chima , author of The Warrior Heir , The Dragon Heir, & other YA fantasy.
"What an exciting start to a series. It’s not simple to write a streamlined fantasy that is easy and quick to read, yet still has a strong sense of place and depth of characterization, but C.A. Rainfield has succeeded admirably."
-- Annette Curtis Klaus, author of Blood and Chocolate, The Silver Kiss, & other YA fantasy.
"The Last Dragon is full of adventure and heart. The short, action-packed chapters make it a perfect choice for reluctant readers."
-- Jo Knowles, author of Lessons from a Dead Girl & Jumping Off Swings.
"This morning, when I showed the Dragon Speaker books to my sons, my youngest (William, aged 9) who is NOT an eager reader, grabbed Book One and disappeared into his room for more than an hour with it, and is now on Chapter 5. We were decorating the house for Christmas at the time, and when I put on the Barenaked Ladies' Christmas CD, my kids' all-time favourite, Will yelled down "Turn it off, I'm trying to read!". In our house, this is an event in the order of hell-freezing-over, because in general if an activity does not involve a ball or a puck or a pretty girl, Will is just not into it. So... at least at my house, this series is shaping up to be a big success!"
-- Nora Rock , author of More than Bread.