Dragon Storm: Kai and Boneshadow / Duck’s Backyard

Dragon Storm: Kai and Boneshadow
Alastair Chisholm, illustrated by Eric Deschamps
Nosy Crow

This is the fifth book in Alastair Chisholm’s fantasy series for younger readers, set in the city of Rivven.

After dinner one night Kai and his fellow dragonseers are called to the office of Berin, Chancellor of the Dragonseer Guild. She informs them that at the king’s beset they have been summoned to the Royal Palace where trade negotiations are taking place. There they are to act as ‘apprentice clerks’ to assist Prince Harald by copying out various relevant documents because members of the clerical division at the palace have been struck down by a mysterious sickness. 

Following their first day’s work, the children are talking in their dormitory and Tom mentions seeing a dragon entering the palace. They decide to search in secret for this dragon and while so doing Kai picks up a leather pouch, containing a bottle holding a mysterious potion. This Kai has in his hand when he is rushing to get back to the dorm; it breaks and a shard of glass penetrates his palm and the liquid goes all over his hand. The result is that Kai starts feeling completely different – more confident and powerful.

Back home at the weekend Kai’s dragon Boneshadow notices a change in the boy. The dragonseers are also warned by Berin not to go exploring the castle on their return there the following week. During the weekend Kai’s actions cause consternation among his friends especially when he causes Erin to get injured. Back at the palace, when he starts following the call of that other dragon, Firedreamer, 

not only does he risk losing his human friends, it appears that he might lose Boneshadow too. Will Kai realise what is happening to him before it’s too late? Will Boneshadow discover what her power is? And what is the significance of that crest on the leather pouch …

Gripping reading and a cracking addition to the series.

Duck’s Backyard
Ulrich Hub, illustrated by Jörg Mühle
Gecko Press

A duck with a ‘wonky’ leg lives a lonely life in a backyard from which she’s never ventured. Then one day in wanders a chicken wearing dark glasses. The chicken is rather egocentric, determined and also blind, almost immediately deciding that the duck will be her guide on a journey to a place “where all our secret wishes come true” She knows not where this place is but is certain she’ll know when they reach there. Duck eventually accedes to Chicken’s wishes and off they go, taking it in turns to lead the way. 

They talk and they squabble and dance a fair bit as they conquer ‘the darkest forest in the world’, cross a huge ravine, on a plank placed there by duck, 

and climb the world’s highest mountain. Or do they? No matter, for they find themselves and each other; and they certainly find what matters most of all.

There’s a great deal to ponder upon in this superficially simple, philosophical tale, the drama of which is underscored by Jörg Mühle’s humorous depictions of the travellers. A small piece of thought-provoking brilliance this.

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