A Gentle, Utopian Tale of Science and Magic
This is a gentle story, appropriate for young readers. The lessons about friendship are magnificent. The science is well within the understanding of a young mind and at the same time flies above and beyond anything ordinarily found in a child’s fictional tale. A+ for the author on both counts.
The only reason this rates four stars instead of five for us is that it might be a bit *too* gentle. The author tends to shy away from worry, fear, and conflict, focusing on the more utopian aspects of fictional dragon and octopus societies. As a result, we never worried very much about the main character–or any of the other ones, for that matter. On the other hand, maybe that’s what’s best for a nine-year-old child.
Sure, the characters had their problems, but they were constantly surrounded by love and understanding. Burke’s world is one we wish we all lived in. Nobody wants kids to grow up expecting opposition and adversity at every turn. But we *do* need them to learn how to manage it when they find it. And the interpersonal conflicts of this story–as well as the personal challenges over things like fear and anger–are little more than momentary blips on the map.
Then again, it’s a great blueprint for how we *wish* we all treated each other. And if authors put that out there enough–if we teach our kids that this is how the world could be and this is what they should expect of it–well, maybe we’ll move that much faster in that direction.