Fictional novels with dragons in them have always been one of my favourite types of fantasy book. Many students often have a passion for them too. Avis and the Promise of Dragons fits this genre perfectly.
The story is told in the third person from the point of view of Avis and is set in New Zealand. Avis, her brother and father live together and all are coping in various ways with their mother/wife leaving them for an ex-All Black. The brunt of keeping the household together falls to Avis who is also bullied by a group of boys from school.
On her way home from school one day she runs for cover into the “witch lady’s” garden who invites her in, eventually offering her a job pet sitting. The story evolves from there and as you can imagine the “pets” are by no means normal. The introduction of the fantasy element is done in a completely realistic way and relates to the theme of saving endangered species. Other themes include dealing with family breakups and bullying. I mention these as I am a firm believer that novels can help children understand these issues more clearly by relating them to characters in a book.
The main characters (including the dragon) are believable and it is easy to identify with them because of the lively dialogue and evocative description. The story takes a few twists and by the end Humbert becomes one of my favourite fictional dragons. This book lends itself to a sequel, and would also be an excellent addition to a library or a class read aloud.
AUTHOR: Heather McQuillan
PUBLISHER: AHOY (an imprint of The Cuba Press)
DATE OF PUBLICATION: 2019
AGES: 8 to 12 years
REVIEWER’S NAME: Julie Prince, Classroom teacher, Glenfield Intermediate, Auckland
RECOMMENDATION: Highly Recommended
OPENING SENTENCE/s: “Avis slowed her steps. If she walked at a normal pace then that would put her within the radar of the boys ahead.”
You can buy this book here