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Dragonhaven
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About the Author

Robin McKinley has won various awards and citations for her writing, including the Newbery Medal for The Hero and the Crown and a Newbery Honor for The Blue Sword. Her other books include Sunshine; the New York Times bestseller Spindle's End; two novel-length retellings of the fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Beauty and Rose Daughter; and a retelling of the Robin Hood legend, The Outlaws of Sherwood. She lives with her husband, the English writer Peter Dickinson.

Reviews

Gr 7 Up-A novel set in an alternate contemporary world. Viewing dragons as fire-breathing, non-sentient animals with gigantic appetites for livestock, humans have hunted them for centuries, and now they survive only in a few wilderness havens. Jake Mendoza has grown up at one such haven, the Smokehill National Park in the American West, and has inherited his scientist parents' commitment to the park's secret inhabitants. When he rescues an orphaned baby dragon, he sets in motion a cascade of events that may eventu-ally save these top predators from extinction. Readers will find the book to be less about the joys of the human-dragon bond and more about the challenges of raising an infant and communicating in a vastly different language. As an exhausted Jake explains, he is the first human in history to find out that a marsupial baby dragon out of its mother's pouch still expects a round-the-clock source of food, warmth, and company for over a year. Also, their telepathic communication gives Jake and his fellow Smokehill residents debilitating head-aches, and no one on either side is ever entirely sure they've got the message right. Once readers get through Jake's overdone teenage diction in the first few chapters, they will be engaged by McKinley's well-drawn characters and want to root for the Smokehill commu-nity's fight to save the ultimate endangered species.-Beth Wright, Fletcher Free Library, Burlington, VT Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

Set in a world nearly identical to our own-except for the existence of Draco australiensis (gigantic, reclusive, fire-breathing dragons who raise their infants in marsupial-like pouches)-this big, ambitious novel marks a departure of sorts for Newbery Medalist McKinley, whose previous works take place either in the realm of fairy tale and legend (Spindle's End) or the magical land of Damar (The Hero and the Crown). But fans will instantly recognize its protagonist, the tightly wound and solitary Jake, as classic McKinley. On his first-ever solo expedition in remotest Smokehill (the Wyoming dragon preserve and national park where he was raised), Jake stumbles across the single surviving newborn of a female dragon slaughtered by a poacher. Jake takes on the challenge of raising the orphaned creature, describing the process in minute and loving detail ("She was hopeless as a lapdog-the wrong shape, and she was too thick-bodied to curl properly-but she'd lie pretty contentedly on my bare feet, or behind my ankles-that's when she was willing... to lie down at all. She went on wanting skin [contact], and she still spent nights lying against my stomach"). When Jake attempts to reintroduce the dragon to her own species, a brave new era of dragon-human relations begins. One quibble: because Jake tells the story as a memoir, some climactic moments tend to be relayed at arm's length. On balance, McKinley renders her imagined universe so potently that readers will wish they could book their next vacation in Smokehill. Ages 12-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

"A sharply incisive, wildly intelligent dragon fantasy involving profound layers of science and society, love and loss, and nature and nurture." -Kirkus Reviews

"McKinley renders her imagined universe so potently that readers will wish they could book their next vacation in Smokehill." -Publishers Weekly "An exercise in fantasy subjected to the rigors of science, a close psychological portrait of human and alien minds, and a helluva good read." -Locus "McKinley offers a seamless, believable world, a self-deprecating narrator whose voice never hits a false note, and a poignant message." -VOYA "Robin McKinley has built an admirable career on taking familiar fairy-tale tropes, or long-loved stories, and skillfully combining the architecture of wonder with convincing, realistic detail so that the reader feels she can live inside the story. McKinley has never settled for doing the same thing over and over, but with each new book has experimented with voice, form, and tone, as well as character and plot...[Dragonhaven] is powerful, absorbing, and exquisitely rendered. McKinley makes those dragons real." -SF Site "Compelling." -Booklist "Insightful about emotion, biology, language, and the intricate love/hate relationship between science and humanity. Quietly magnificent." -Kirkus Reviews

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