Dragon by Jody Bergsma (HC/DJ)
Grade 2-5-Celtic mythology and art strongly influence this original story patterned after classic heroic quests. When Prince Langilor is born at the same moment as a dragon named Saras, their paths are destined to cross. As the gentle prince matures, the King's advisors worry that he is unfit to protect the kingdom from the nefarious Saras. With guidance from an elf queen and a talking swan, Langilor summons the courage to confront the beast. After a battle in which both are seriously injured, they are nursed back to health by the elves. During their convalescence, the foes develop a mutual regard for one another and eventually return to the palace triumphant. It is never made clear why Saras is so evil when the rest of his clan is peace loving, or why he alone can breathe fire or fly. Similarly, the reconciliation between the two enemies is too facile. Executed in a high-fantasy style, the double-page artwork integrates Celtic imagery with more modern renderings of elves and the like. The depictions of dragons are much more dynamic and arresting than those of people, whose faces all tend to wear the same expression and have fairly static forms. This debut may find a following among fantasy aficionados, but most libraries will be better served by well-illustrated collections of more traditional dragon lore.