[Book cover credit: librarything.com/work/book/51611665]
You can talk to her. You can talk to dragons.
Jacob laughed. The idea was crazy. No one can talk to dragons, Jacob sent to the bird. Besides, I though they were all dead. Are you sure there's one still alive?
The bird answered quickly. Yes. You can speak to this dragon, as you speak to us. You are the Chosen One.
"I'm not chosen for anything," Jacob said out loud.
Jacob, who has talked to birds for as long as he can remember, is one of only a handful of boys to survive Lord Manning's edict that every young male with any inkling of magical talent be killed. He was badly injured in the fire that killed his brother, and the resulting limp is a constant reminder to Jacob that he'll never live up to his father's expectations for him. He is a disappointment. If he truly is the Chosen One, he could prove to his father and the rest of his village that he is worthy of their respect and maybe, just maybe, he could bring Lord Manning's tyrannical rule to an end.
This slim book packs a lot of action and plot into its 111 pages. It did not include the lengthy explanation of the world into which the reader is being dropped that can bog down good fantasy books (for example). Instead, IMPORTANT THINGS start happening right on page 1. It's awesome.
The shortness of the book does make for a rather intense plot. Using a familiar setting and some familiar circumstances, Rainfield manages to tell a story that is original and engaging. I sped through it. Jacob, along with his BFF Orson and random girl Lia, are out to save their world, afterall. The last dragon, who can only talk to Jacob, needs him to save her egg, which, considering that she's dying, is the real Last Dragon, from Lord Manning and Kain (his evil personal wizard). Dragons, of course, are key to overthrowing Lord Manning and taking away all of Kain's evil power.
The short chapters (with about one illustration each) and the quick plot will make it easy for reluctant readers to get into the story, which is good since this book is a hi-lo (high interest, low vocabulary) book. Once I got into the book, I completely forgot that it was written specifically for reluctant or struggling readers. Reading this after reading an intricate historical fiction novel was, clearly, a drop in reading levels, but the quality of the storytelling certainly did not drop.
Cheryl Rainfield, the author, is REALLY EXCITED that this book has finally come out and is available on amazon. There is more information, including a link to the publisher who is also selling a Teacher's Guide for all you educational-type folks, on her blog.
Book source: Review copy from HIP Books