Source: Publisher – I received this in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Publisher: Random House for Young Readers
Edition: Hardcover, 160 Pages
Genre: Children’s Fantasy
Purchase: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository
The dragon’s out of the bag in this diverse, young urban fantasy from an award-winning author!
When Jaxon is sent to spend the day with a mean old lady his mother calls Ma, he finds out she’s not his grandmother–but she is a witch! She needs his help delivering baby dragons to a magical world where they’ll be safe. There are two rules when it comes to the dragons: don’t let them out of the bag, and don’t feed them anything sweet. Before he knows it, Jax and his friends Vikram and Kavita have broken both rules! Will Jax get the baby dragons delivered safe and sound? Or will they be lost in Brooklyn forever?
Dragons in a Bag is a early middle grade novel/late elementary novel that focuses on a young boy named Jaxon who is sent to spend a day with a woman called Ma, who turns out to be much more than she seems. It’s a wonderful inclusive fantasy novel that shines a light on people, family dynamics, and places that we don’t normally see in young fantasy.
Upon opening Dragons in a Bag I was immediately charmed by it. So often we get books in this age range that is majority based, Caucasian and middle class. There isn’t anything wrong with that, and a lot of people do relate to it, but thinking back to my own childhood I don’t remember a fantasy book that had a person of color as the main character. To top it off, it takes place in Brooklyn, which is such a cool place to have magic and whimsy because on first glance it being a city makes it seem the antithesis to magic. It also deals briefly with issues like eviction, which is such a tough topic to breach with kids and while it doesn’t go through it in detail it is mentioned and discussed a few times.
The magic is so fun too! It isn’t super flashy most of the time, and that which happens on our end in Brooklyn is a bit disguised giving that feeling of ‘magic could happen anywhere’ that makes this age range so whimsical. It also seems that magic is accessible to anyone in some way, even if they don’t have traditional training.
The story focuses on Jaxon, a ten-year-old, who stays with a woman called Ma, who is very prickly at first but slowly opens up. Their dynamic is wonderful and a bit atypical. Ma isn’t an easy woman to get to know, she’s very blunt and very secretive, but I love that by the end they had settled into a wonderful friendship. In fact, many of the adults linked to Ma treat Jaxon more as an equal than as a child and give him opportunities to help and provide input, which provides him time to grow and learn about his new place in this world.
Overall I’m quite pleased with Dragons in a Bag, and definitely plan to pick up the second book when it comes out. It’s a quick fun little read with diversity and a lot of magical fun to be had.