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What would you do if a dragon snatched up your beloved chocolate-coloured Lab? Mum is not much help saying “Please stop telling tales.” Brothers Paddy and Flynn have no other option but to rescue Coco the dog themselves. They pack their bags and make some sandwiches (not as good as the ones mum makes though) ready for their quest. Off they set across their island home, scaling the mountain and looking for the Dragon’s lair.
Once they find it, Paddy keeps watch outside while Flynn creeps in and finds Coco next to the sleeping dragon. All is going well until Coco’s excited barking wakes the dragon and the boys have to run for their lives. And, just as it seems the dragon is about to get them: “Paddy felt its fiery breath warming up his bottom…” they are saved by Paddy’s clever thinking.
This is an adventure story that kids will love. It is written in an easy to read rhyme that works well, with a good pace and the action steadily building up over the course of the story. There are moments of humour and the fact that Mum doesn’t believe the boys have bested a dragon, telling them “That’s nice my darlings, now off to bed” gives the readers a sense of closeness to the brothers: even if mum doesn’t believe, the reader is in on the secret, making them part of the team.
Link Choi’s solid, earthy toned illustrations fit well with the story and earned him a finalist placing for the Russell Clark Medal for Illustration. His dragon is wonderful, and Coco the lab is very cute too I might add.
Russell and Choi have created a wonderful book, ensuring all elements: text, illustration and design, are of a professional quality, and they have gone a step further in producing an AR (Augmented Reality) reading app which brings the Dragon Brothers world into 3D life. This is so easy to use and adds another exciting element to the appeal of the book. The gorgeous end papers feature a map of the Dragon Brothers World, which when using the AR app, appears in 3D complete with sounds and even a dragon or two flying in and out and the boys themselves; very clever and very cool!
The Dragon Hunters is a fun to read, good old adventure tale that is easy to read again and again. It is the first story in a trilogy featuring the brothers, and with the other two titles continuing their dragon adventures – The Dragon Tamers and The Dragon Riders, this set will be a worthy addition to any bookshelf.
Reviewed by Vanessa Hatley-Owen
The Dragon Hunters
by James Russell, illustrated by Link Choi
Published by Sourcebooks, Inc