Book Review: Diego's Dragon, Book One: Spirits of the Sun by Kevin Gerard and Jennifer Fong


Pinterest collageI am glad to be able to post this review thanks to Crying Cougar Press and in conjunction with  Multicultural Children's Book Day!

Children’s reading and play advocates Valarie Budayr from Jump Into a Book and Mia Wenjen from Pragmatic Mom teamed up to create an ambitious (and much needed) national event. On January 27th, Jump into a Book and Pragmatic Mom will be presenting the first ever Multicultural Children’s Book Day as a way of celebrating diversity in children’s books.For more information on the day please explore the website for the day here.

Diego's Dragon, Book One: Spirits of the Sun is an urban fantasy for middle grade and young adult readers written by Kevin Gerard and illustrated by Jennifer Fong. Eleven-year-old Diego Ramirez wins a district-wide writing contest for sixth graders. When an author visits his school to award his prize, Diego Ramirez has no idea how much his life is about to change. Author Nathan Sullivan visits his school and hands Diego his prize; a black dragon statue, shakes his hand and leaves him to his friends. After hearing the name Magnifico spoken aloud by family and friends, Diego gives the name to his new dragon. He did not know just how fitting the name was. Magnifico is the leader of the Sol Dragones, dragons that live within the magical fires of the sun. Nathan Sullivan is the earth's connection to the mysterious creatures and it was his task to find Magnifico's guide. As Magnifico comes to life he plays tricks on Diego to embarrass him while helping him discover his destiny. In a climactic journey, Diego frees his people and suffers a terrible loss by guiding Magnifico to their goal.

Diego's Dragon has a great concept, and for the most part a great execution. Diego is a great character and very true to life. He has the problems of all twelve-year-olds, looking to find his place at home and in school as he faces an age of transition. He has a brother facing difficulties, but supportive parents, and a loving extended family. His friends and the girl he has a crush on play their parts perfectly, but they never seem to be stock characters. I particularly like that the climax of the story does not play out the way I expected, which is always a nice surprise.  I only had a couple small things that cause me not to give this book a full five stars. The first few scenes jumped around in time order a little, I understand the reasons or doing this and sometimes it works, but for some reason I just did not like it here.

My only other distraction while reading has to do with one of the major things I loved about the book. It was wonderful seeing a Latino main character, which is shockingly uncommon in fantasy literature even today. I know a bit of conversational Spanish, mainly from life experience and children's television, however I am far from fluent. I also have a bit of Italian and tons of Latin under my belt, and for the most part I knew the words, particularly from context- but every so often I did not know what a word meant. Thankfully this never happened when the exact translation was plot important, but I was occasionally distracted by my own lacking. It just encouraged me to do a little more work on my language skills, because I definitely want to read the next two books in the series.

I would recommend Diego's Dragon to every reader that likes fantasy, adventure, coming of age stories, and dragons. Do not be discouraged by my language barrier- even with my fallibilities I highly enjoyed the story and do not think I missed anything important. The story is exciting and something new and different that will appeal to many readers. Reluctant readers and avid fantasy readers alike should be able to enjoy the story.
Just


For more information on the series check out the website: http://www.diegosdragon.com/

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An award-winning children’s book publisher focusing on diversity. Our books are about everyone, for everyone. LEE & LOW BOOKS is a children’s book publisher focusing on diversity. Our award-winning multicultural books are about everyone, for everyone. Our goal is to meet the need for stories that all children can identify with and enjoy. We publish picture books, middle grade, and YA titles, including bilingual books under our CBP imprint and science fiction and fantasy under our Tu Books imprint.
Susan Fayad

Author Susan Fayad
Susan Daniel Fayad, author of My Grandfather’s Masbaha was written as a tribute to her father to honor him in the eyes of her children. Fayad wrote the book to highlight Lebanese culture while emphasizing a universal theme of appreciation and counting your blessings. You can connect with Susan on Twitter (@grandadmasbaha ) or Facebook.

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