Werewolf Versus Dragon (An Awfully Beastly Business) by The Beastly Boys
|Werewolf Versus Dragon (An Awfully Beastly Business) by The Beastly Boys|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: A clever and interesting fantasy story of good beasties and nasty humans is the first in a series that looks to offer great levels of entertainment, in this book and in those to come.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 192||Date: July 2008|
|Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Books|
Ulf. Now that's not a name I think you or I would choose for the boy hero of a fantasy adventure series for the under-tens, but then what do we know what names young werewolves have? For Ulf is a werewolf. Home for him until he comes of age is the huge, sprawling sanctuary that is run by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Beasts. It's a mammoth undertaking, arranging for habitat for no end of odd creatures, each with their individual needs. There's that odd cross between a giraffe and a piranha – the giranha, and I'm sure I saw a duck-billed sphynx there one day.
All these animals and more are seen when we get a guided tour of the institution, which is necessary to set up the whole scene of the series to come, but happily fits into the story provided by this initial volume. The RSPCB track a pair of dragons flying past on their migration one evening, only to find in horror that the baby dragon has been shot down. When we see how we can easily tell why, but it's what that leads to that is the crux of this adventure.
It's actually an incredibly predictable story, when you're my age – we can see practically all of it coming a mile off, but to the book's credit it is thoroughly energetic and a page-turner of superlative pace. For the target audience it will be a very enjoyable read and they won't need or want to sit back and second guess it. They'll be happier to delight in the slight gross-out writing here. Not only is there the nature of all the animals, and their eating and medical requirements, but the early scene of the dragon autopsy, of all things, was one thing I didn't see coming, and wasn't sure I wanted to.
That's not to say there is anything inappropriate for the 8-11 year olds. There is a strong fondness towards technobabble now and again, where long words might put some less fluent readers off. On the whole, however, this looks like being the start of a very good series. It is clear Ulf, his fairy friend, Dr Fielding (the female vet who practically runs the whole show herself – so why so many dune buggies in the carpark?!), the snide gargoyle that serves as Greek chorus, and more, will all return for the rest of the series, and I can see no problem with that at all.
It lacks a tiny charm, a little bit of special exuberance that might have earned it the full five stars but really there's nothing to quibble about. It's a very well put together volume, too – a nice package for the young reader in your life this season. But don't forget – beasts are for life, not just for Christmas.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.
If this book appeals to your child then we think that he or she might also enjoy Barnaby Grimes: Curse of the Night Wolf by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell.
You can read more book reviews or buy Werewolf Versus Dragon (An Awfully Beastly Business) by The Beastly Boys at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Werewolf Versus Dragon (An Awfully Beastly Business) by The Beastly Boys at Amazon.com.
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