Saturday, May 09, 2009

Leapin' Lizards: The Dragon in the Sock Drawer by Kate Klimo

"Let me out!"

Jesse's eyes snapped open. The voice sounded close and far away at the same time, like the music leaking out of somebody else's earphones.

Jesse looked around. Daisy and Uncle Joe were he only other people on the mountaintop. Uncle Joe was bending over, tapping a boulder with a small pickax. Daisy was flipping back and forth through her handbook. Then Jesse saw a man standing not far away. The man was poking around with a stick, the tail of his long black coat trailing in the snow. He was a bit strange-looking, but he clearly wasn't calling to Jesse.


Jesse looked down. Either he was going crazy or the voice was coming from the rock in his hand. He held it up to his ear.

"Let! Me! Out! Of! Here!" said the rock.

And there is definitely something inside the curiously heavy rock which Daisy tells him is a "thunder egg" or geode, as cousins Jesse and Daisy soon find out. Going to fetch the geode from Jesse's sock drawer the next day, the two find instead a young green dragon, no bigger than a newborn kitten. At last their dream of doing something magical together has come true. They are, by default, now dragonkeepers!

The little hatchling, whom they name Emerald, or Emmy for short, lets them know in no uncertain terms in dragon baby talk that she needs food and right away. Visiting the library to try to find out about the care and feeding of dragons leads them to a website (, a strangely interactive site through which they are able to speak to the bushy-bearded Professor L.B. Andersson, who advises them on the proper calcium-rich diet for a fast-growing dragon and ends the connection with the brusque warning "BEWARE OF THE DRAGONSLAYER".

And the evil Dragonslayer soon presents himself, one Dr. St. George, who claims to be the owner of Emmy, cages her, and makes off with her to his lab at the university. Jesse and Daisy learn from Prof. Andersson that the strange St. George no doubt plans to augment his evil powers by drinking her blood, that is, as soon as she reaches her full size and blood volume. Jesse and Daisy retaliate by tracking down Emmy by her hot chili pepper scent and stealing her back from the evil dragonslayer, but St. George has his own ways of tracing Emmy's whereabouts and soon is hard on their trail.

But Emmy is a precocious little dragon, with powers unusual even at her tender age. Already possessed of such dragon behaviors as hoarding and scrying (seeing the future), she comes into a new potentiality just as St. George closes in--masking. Suddenly transforming into a large, affectionate sheepdog, Emmy escapes the dragonslayer--for the moment--and book one of this new series comes to an end with Jesse and Daisy in possession of a magical, and shaggy, new pet.

Author Kate Klimo leaves plenty of loose ends a-dangle for subsequent sequels in her Dragon Keepers #1: The Dragon in the Sock Drawer, a light and fast-moving little novel with just enough humor and close shaves for young dragon fans. The further adventures of the dragon-keeping cousins can be followed in Klimo's recent sequel, Dragon Keepers #2: The Dragon in the Driveway.

For kids who like Bruce Coville's Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher: A Magic Shop Book, which leads off his Magic Shop Books series, will find no problem stepping easily into the first installments in Klimo's Dragon Keeper series.

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