Dragon Moon, by Carol Wilkinson

Rereleased with a beautiful new cover.

Dragon Moon (Dragonkeeper)

The following review was published on Aussiereviews in 2007, when the book was first released.

Everything was bathed in orange blight. The breeze rippled the grass. There were bushes covered with yellow blossom. The grass was speckled with purple bells and spikes of blue flowers. A stream cut its way across the plateau before it plunged over the edge and became the Serpent’s Tail. Long Gao Yuan was just as Ping had imagined.
A sorrowful sound broke the silence. It was Kai. It made Ping’s heart ache.

For more than a year Ping and Kai have sheltered at Beibai Palace, but now Ping knows they must continue their journey. Ping is the last dragon keeper, charged with the care of Kai, the last dragon. She must take Kai to safety, but where this safety lies is not yet clear. All she has is a message from Danzi, Kai’s now dead father.

Together the pair cross China, searching for the haven Danzi has instructed them to find. Along the way they encounter old friends, and many perils, but gradually Ping unravels the clues Danzi has given,. When they reach the dragon haven, Kai will be safe and there might even be other dragons to help raise him. Or are they in for more heartbreak?

Dragon Moon is the brilliant third and final instalment in the Dragonkeeper trilogy, by award winning author Carole Wilkinson. This superb fantasy offering will have readers from ten to adult enthralled, turning pages eagerly to keep up with Ping and Kai’s journey. The ancient Chinese setting and the wonderful rendering of the dragon characters carries the reader into the fantasy world that Wilkinson has created, suspending disbelief with ease.

The only negative about this book is that it marks the end of such an awe-inspiring trilogy.

Dragon Moon, by Carole Wilkinson
Black Dog Books, 2007, and new edition 2012

This new edition is available in good bookstores and online from Fishpond.

Garden of the Purple Dragon, by Carole Wilkinson

Ping ran back through the pine trees, her heart pounding. Kai wasn’t sitting at the mouth of the cave where she’d left him. He looked around, but the fog was like a blindfold. She called his name and ran into the cave. The little dragon was digging up the bed, scattering pine needles everywhere. Ping rushed to him…
“We’re going to find somewhere else to live,” she said, trying to sound calm.

Ping thinks she has found a safe hiding spot to bring up Kai, the baby dragon whose care has been entrusted to her. But her peace is disturbed when she realises someone has found her. She must do everything she can to protect Kai, the last dragon, but who can she trust?

Garden of the Purple Dragon is the second title in the Dragonkeeper series, picking up soon after the first left off. Ping was once a slave girl who didn’t even know her own name, until she discovered that she could communicate with dragons and that she was, in fact, heir to the position of Imperial Dragonkeeper. Now she is on the run with baby Kai, the last of the Imperial dragons, keeping him safe from those who would use him for evil – even if it kills him.

First published in 2005, Garden of the Purple Dragon has been republished, along with other books in the series, with stunning new covers and the same wonderful tale which readers will love to revisit or to discover for the first time. And, of course, on finishing it, they’ll be looking for number three in the series to see what happens next.

Garden of the Purple Dragon (Dragonkeeper)

Garden of the Purple Dragon , by Carole Wilkinson
Black Dog Books, first published 2005, this edition 2012
ISBN 9781742032467

This book is available from good bookstores or online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Dragonkeeper, by Carole Wilkinson

Back in print with an amazing new cover.

Dragonkeeper (Dragonkeeper)
Here’s my review from 2003, when the book was first published:

In ancient China a slave girl who is told she is not worthy of a name witnesses the brutal carving up and pickling of a dragon. When the remaining dragon is threatened, the girl takes a chance and rescues him, fleeing her brutal master.

The pair are free, but a long way from safety. They must travel across China, evading a ruthless dragon hunter and protecting a mystic stone, the dragon stone.

This is a story of incredible beauty, with a delightful mix of fantasy and history. The dragon and his young keeper are created with such intricacy that it is hard to believe author Carole Wilkinson was not a first-hand witness to the events she describes.

Wilkinson’s earlier books were good – but this one, her longest yet, is simply brilliant.

Dragonkeeper, by Carole Wilkinson
Black Dog Books, 2003
New edition 2012

The Mapmaker's Apprentice, by Peter Cooper

The monks were gone. Three creatures stood in their place, twisted and hunched, skin pale green in the light of the cave mouth, tongues as red as blood as they leered and grimaced and brandished heavy iron swords at the travellers.
‘Rock-demons!’ Koto yelled, and lunged forward.

Now that they are free of their cruel masters, Dillen, Koto and Tajni are ready to pursue their dreams. For Dillen, this means seeking an apprenticeship as a mapmaker. But when he visits the mapmakers house to see if he will be chosen as an apprentice, Dillen finds that competition for the position is fierce. The mapmaker decides to set a challenge for the candidates: to travel to a watch tower and read what is written on its walls. Soon Dillen is travelling across the land, with Koto and Tajni by his side, on a journey filled with danger. The tower guards a mountain pass which is closed to travellers because of the presence of a fearsome beast terrorising those who dare to make the journey. But this will be only one of the challenges the trio have to face if they are to complete the quest – and do it before any of the other candidates.

The Mapmaker’s Apprentice is the second in the Tales of the Blue Jade series, and picks up soon after the first left off. The three friends once again must work together, each drawing on their talents and overcoming their fears as they face new challenges and old foes. The twists and turns of the journey are well paced with development of individual characters and their relationships, creating a satisfying whole.

Best read as a follow on from the first book, but could be read on its own.

The Mapmaker's Apprentice (Tales of the Blue Jade)

The Mapmaker’s Apprentice (Tales of the Blue Jade), by Peter Coper
Omnibus Books, 2012
ISBN 9781862919303

This book is available in good bookstores or online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Kumiko and the Shadow Catchers, by Briony Stewart

t night when it gets cold, tiny beads of water turn to ice, making everything glitter like the jewelled belongings of an empress. Even the tiles of our roof sparkle as I climb onto them from my bedroom window in my warmest hanten coat. Tomodo is waiting for me, his spines shining in the moonlight from his tail to his steps. Once I am sitting safely between his shoulders, he throws his black wings open to the air of the night and leaps into the sky.

Kumiko is tired of living in fear. Since she learnt about the dreaded Shadow Catchers, powerful sorcerers who will stop at nothing to steal dragon magic, she has known that she, her family, and her dragon Tomodo, are in danger. But instead of waiting for the Shadow Catchers to find her, Kumiko has decided she will find them – and stop them once and for all.

Kumiko and the Shadow Catchers is the third and final story in the Kumiko series, and is as enchanting as the first two. What is wonderful about this series is that it shows a child who sees herself as nothing special, and scared of everything, uncovering her own strengths and, as a result, blossoming. In each instalment the stakes have been raised – and as a result Kumiko has had to dig ever deeper to overcome the troubles that beset her and her friends.

The writing is poetic and utterly enchanting, with such gems as the breathtaking line: sometimes one short hug is like a long conversation between friends.

Whilst it is sad to see the series end, Kumiko and the Shadow Catchers is a perfect conclusion.

Kumiko and the Shadow Catchers

Kumiko and the Shadow Catchers, by Briony Stewart
UQP, 2011

ISBN 9780702238741

This book can be purchased in good bookstores, or online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Hunting for Dragons, by Bruce Whatley

Dragons are everywhere – if you know where to look.

The young protagonist in this book likes nothing better than hunting for dragons and spends most weekends doing just that. There are dragons high in the sky (in the clouds), but it is hard to catch those ones, so it is better to hunt inside where dragons hide in every room of the house.

As the child hunts dragons, the reader has the fun of spotting them in each illustration – outlined by the shape of food on a plate, washing in a basket, shadows on a wall, and more. But the biggest surprise of all is when the protagonist finds a big green dragon in her bedroom . An additional lovely surprise is when the child takes off her dragon hunting armour to reveal to the reader that she is a girl.

Hunting for Dragons is a gorgeous hard cover picture book offering from award winning author/illustrator Bruce Whatley. The whimsy of the watercolour illustrations, the surprises hidden in the same, and the fun of the text will delight young readers.


Hunting for Dragons, by Bruce Whatley
Scholastic Press, 2010

This book can be purchased online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Kumiko and the Dragon's Secret, by Briony Stewart

‘What about the girl?’
I look up, my skin prickling. How hadn’t I noticed? Sobs and sighs tumble from every dragon around the temple as Rahzoo breathes the word, ‘Taken.’
‘What do you mean taken?’ I say. The dragons are silent. I turn to Tomodo. ‘What do they mean?’

Kumiko’s little sister Arisu is a pest. Kumiko would much rather spend time with her guardian dragon Tomodo. But when Arisu disappears, Kumiko realises how much she loves her. The dragons must find her and rescue her – if they can. It soon emerges that Kumiko herself is the only one who can rescue Arisu, by facing a foe even the dragons fear.

Kumiko and the Dragon’s Secret is a beautiful chapter book and sequel to Kumiko and the Dragon. Kumiko and her family are the last of the ancient royal bloodline of dragons. As such they have powers which they are still uncovering, and guardian dragons. Kumiko’s dragon, Tomodo, tells her that her secret gift is courage, but Kumiko isn’t so sure.

With gorgeous black and white illustrations by the author, Kumiko and the Dragon’s Secret is an excellent read for children.

Kumiko and the Dragon's Secret

Kumiko and the Dragon’s Secret, by Briony Stewart
UQP, 2010

This book can be purchased online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Camelot, by Colin Thompson

Long ago in a faraway land, nearly halfway between somewhere over the rainbow and 23 Paradise St Arcadia, was a magical land called Avalon.
And at the heart of Avalon was a magical castle called Camelot.
And at the heart of Camelot lived a mighty King called Uther-Pendragon. Camelot was a fabulous place, so fabulous indeed that it was almost impossible to believe it really existed and wasn’t just a wonderful dream.
Even the greatest stories written about it did not do it justice. It was the ultimate castle, more magnificent and vast than the next ten best castles added together. It wasn’t just staggeringly gorgeous, it was staggeringly big too. It didn’t have one room for each day of the year, it had eleven and a half.

Camelot is the first in a new series (The Dragons) for Colin Thompson. The series is set in the time of King Arthur and his legendary home Camelot. But this is not the Camelot that readers might know from other novels or films. Arthur is an 11-year-old child and a particularly unimpressive one at that. He’s vain, stupid, mean and much more. No one in the palace likes him much, except for his long-suffering nanny. Merlin finds him almost unbearable, except that Arthur’s stupidity allows the magician to run the kingdom with little interference. Add in Arthur’s sister, endangered and incontinent dragons, deep lakes, dangerous moats, fireproof foundlings and not very brave knights and Camelot is almost complete. There are advertisements scattered through. Who wouldn’t want to visit Downwind Island where staff will ensure you feel useless? And in case you wanted to know how to speak like an upperclass twit – the instructions are also included.

Colin Thompson’s new series is full of as many absurdities and twisty-turny plot threads as his previous series ‘The Floods’ was. Characters are never quite as they seem, and generally evolve to be worse, better, uglier, nicer, lovelier, dumber than they first seem. The first book in a new series has a lot to do, introducing a new world and setting up the following episodes. It never feels weighted down for all the ‘plot plants’ that are here. Some plot threads appear to peter out, and others are neatly tied. Others promise adventures to come. The pace is cracking. Truly horrible and gory details abound. Footnotes give the reader extra details or sometimes just little insights into Thompson’s childhood. Chapters are introduced with a brief and illustrated scene setting. Recommended for confident primary readers and fans of ‘The Floods’.

The Dragons: Camelot, Colin Thompson
Random House 2009
ISBN: 9781741663815

Camelot: No. 1: Camelot (Dragons)

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

This book can be purchased online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Belmont and the Dragon – The Forest of Doom and Gloom

Long, long ago, in the mad-cap medieval metropolis of Old York…there lived an orphan boy named Belmont. He was small of stature but in his heart he had a very big dream.

Belmont dreams of one day becoming a knight. When the other orphans scoff at the suggestion, Belmont sets off on an adventure, determined to prove he can be brave and heroic. Along the way he meets a SNAD (Sensitive New Age Dragon) named Burnie and together they must rescue the beautiful princess Libby from the Putrid Pink Pixies and their mistress, the Redwitch.

Belmont and the Dragon: The Forest of Doom and Gloom is the first in a gorgeous new junior fiction series. The 48 page full-colour format, mixes adventure and humour, with a fast-moving, slightly silly story and cartoon-style illustrations for a combination which emerging readers will adore. The author-illustrator team have both worked in animation, and the book has the feel of a cartoon episode, with the illustrations having depth and the twists of the storyline offering both surprises and laughs. There’s nothing not to like here.

Belmont and the Dragon (Belmont and the Dragon)

Belmont and the Dragon: The Forest of Doom and Gloom, by Mike Zarb & RobinGold
RandomHouse Australia, 2008

This book is available online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Dragon Dawn, by Carole Wilkinson

Danzi walked over to a snow-covered mound. In previous years, the sleepless winters had passed quickly and pleasantly. He’d had the company of his Dragonkeeper, Chen-mo. They had sat around a cheerful fire, composing poetry, playing chess and reading from the one bamboo book that the Dragonkeeper had owned. This year, Danzi would spend the winter alone.

Danzi is nearly 1000 years old – young for a dragon. Once again he is without a keeper, and this time he has decided he does not need a new one. But he must travel, and with soldiers on the march and unrest throughout the provinces, it is a dangerous time for a dragon to be without a keeper. When he meets a trickster called Bingwen on the road, his determination to be alone does not waver.

Dragon Dawn is a delightful prequel to the award winning Dragonkeepr trilogy. Shorter in length than the books in the trilogy, it offers a glimpse of the dragon Danzi’s life which can be read alone, or as an introduction or follow up to the other books.

This is a wonderful fantasy story, allowing fans to enjoy more of Danzi’s adventures and his life.

Dragon Dawn, by Carole Wilkinson
Black Dog, 2008