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The Dragon's Tooth
Martin Hall
Praxis Books, 90 pages

The Dragon's Tooth
Martin Hall
Martin Hall writes novels and stories for children and adults, as well as songs. He works as a software consultant, and is interested in scuba diving, dragons and folk music. In 1997 he won the Benjamin Franklin Award for the Best Children's Picture Book for Charlie and Bethan.

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Praxis Books

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Lisa DuMond

All right. Stop staring at the cover graphic. I know, I know, but don't let the rather cheesy cover turn you off. In fact, ignore it if you will; it is neither worthy of The Dragon's Tooth nor appropriate to the age group that is going to enjoy the book the most. Open this entertaining fantasy and get right down to the prose. There you go.

The Dragon's Tooth is the tale of a dragon with a toothache; Mostril, the boy he befriends; and the adventures of the two in their encounter with the captain and crew of the good ship Kumaferon. With pirates, shipwrecks, warring countries, and dangerous seas -- really, dragons would seem to be the least of their problems. If they survive at all, it will be thanks to their scaly ally.

When Mostril and his friend Su-Yashi (the captain's dauntless daughter) are separated from the ship and crew, they find themselves alone and in danger. It is going to take all of the courage and ingenuity the young pair can muster to rescue themselves and the captive mariners. No small task for two unarmed adventurers barely out of childhood. But, they aren't about to allow trifles like lacking experience and being vastly outnumbered stop them from completing their mission.

Readers in the 11 to 14 range are going to feel a connection with what appears to be an impossible task. At that age, I remember being amazed by The Island of the Blue Dolphins. That people your own age can endure and thrive in the wilds, alone, without adults to make decisions and protect them, is an astonishing concept. No matter how grown-ups treat you, you may at any time be forced to take on the responsibility of taking care of yourself and other equally "helpless" souls.

That's not something they teach you in between multiplication and conjugation. Maybe you should give it a little thought. Just in case.

Although Mostril is the focus of The Dragon's Tooth, Su-Yashi comes off as strong as any of the male characters. Don't think that because it is full of pirates and trading ships that the book will appeal only to the males on your shopping list. This is high adventure for everyone; girls will not know that they aren't supposed to like swashbuckling stories unless we tell them.

And it never hurts to give a child a sense of their own power and capabilities. Youth is so often a time of vulnerability, impotence in the face of adult supervision. What an astonishing thing to be in the position to make decisions and take action. How much more astounding to imagine being equal to the challenge.

Copyright © 1999 Lisa DuMond

Lisa DuMond writes science fiction and humour. She co-authored the 45th anniversary issue cover of MAD Magazine. Previews of her latest, as yet unpublished, novel are available at Hades Online.

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