Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Garden of the Purple Dragon by Carole Wilkinson

Beware, my friends. Garden of the Purple Dragon by Carole Wilkinson is the second book in a series. This is mostly a standalone novel, but I'm wondering how much more I would have enjoyed it if I'd actually read the first book. 

This is a middle reader, recommended for grades 5 - 8. Basically a girl, Ping, is in charge of the last remaining dragon, Kai, who is a young baby dragon.  In her duties as the dragon's caretaker, Ping winds up in a series of troublesome situations.  There's a pet rat who is more than just a pet rat. There's irksome court politics. There's adventure and frolicking. There's a baby dragon!

The main theme here seems to be about learning and being confident. Kai is learning to be a dragon and Ping is learning how best to communicate with and care for him.  The Emperor is new to his job and has to figure it out.  I liked that Ping was a female character who was strong and resourceful. There are actual mentions about how she's the only person with real authority in the Emperor's inner circle who is a woman and I think it's important to show to young readers that there are still obstacles for women, but they can (sometimes) be overcome.

But, overall, this was meh for me. Again, maybe if I'd been invested in these characters because I'd read the first book, this would be rectified. On the whole, though, it just felt a bit cartoon-y and predictable in its plot.  I can see how it would appeal to young readers and I certainly wouldn't stop anyone from reading it, but I won't be buying it for my nieces or nephews to read any time soon.

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