Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Review: How to Raise and Keep a Dragon

This is a delightful book with charming color illustrations of Dragons of many types.

Part 1, Should You Own a Dragon? walks the reader through a series of fundamental questions that bear consideration before adopting a dragon. What is a Dragon, Reasons to Raise a Dragon, Some Cautionary Considerations, and A Checklist of Intent.

Part 2, Dragon Breeds, devotes a two page spread to each of the following dragon types: Asian Dragon, Cockatrice, Dragon of India, Drakon, Toppa Dragon, Multiheaded Dragon, Mushussu, Piasa, Rainbow Serpent, Salamander, Sea Dragon, Standard Western Dragon, Tarasque, and Worm.

Each spread includes a nice full-color illustration of the Dragon breed, accompanied by a small numbered legend identifying key features. In addition, there is a color sidebar that includes a locator map showing the breed's home, an illustration of its egg, a picture of a skin swatch showing the texture, and, in perhaps my favorite touch, a b/w drawing showing the Dragon breed in question next to a person or other object to give you a sense of the scale. Along with this you get a paragraph of descriptive text on items such as Pedigree, Habits, Special Care, and Temperament.

Part 3, Raising the Perfect Dragon, has sections on how to choose your dragon (my favorite is a two page spread showing a red dragon and enumerating the things to look out for as signs of ill health when inspecting a dragon, such as dull eyes, coughing or sneezing, constricted nasal passages, cracked claws, and so forth). You also get notes on indoor and outdoor habitats, necessary equipment, shipping the dragon, hatching the egg, feeding, and grooming.

Part 4, Training Your Dragon, gives tips for both small and large dragons. I liked the thought that went into the types of harnesses and rigging that would be appropriate for a Dragon. There are sections on riding dragons on land, sea, and air.

Part 5, Presenting Your Dragon, has tips on showing the Dragon, what judges look for, and resources. My favorite bit here was on renting one's dragon out as a model for heraldic artists.

The book concludes with a fun bibliography, in which real and imaginary books are intermixed (the fictional ones marked by an asterisk as being available through Dragons Unlimited magazine).

All in all, a fun book that presents a wide range of dragons from around the world illustrated in a clean style and accompanied by some clever ideas sprinkled throughout. Both my seven-year-old son and my ten-year-old daughter devoured it.

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