After all was said and done, I was honored to write the text to accompany Dragon Castle by Joseph Bruchac (Dial) on this year's list of Cybils finalists in Middle Grade Fantasy and Science Fiction. Writing these little paeans to literary achievement and kid appeal is tricky; they have to be concise (mine is 111 words, not counting the exclamation) yet convincing, and above all, they have to make you want to read the book. Which I hope you do.
By the head of the dragon! It’s a good thing Prince Rashko, the sensible second son, is around to defend the royal family’s ancestral castle when Baron Temny and his army of invaders move in, because he’s not going to get much help from his parents (called away to the Silver Lands) or his brother (bewitched by the beautiful Princess Poteshenie). Drawing on Slovakian proverbs and folklore, Bruchac alternates—and eventually intertwines—Rashko’s story with that of the hero Pavol, also depicted in a mysterious tapestry that hangs on the castle walls. The result is high fantasy laced with history and humor, action and adventure, as Rashko and the reader alike uncover the secrets of Dragon Castle.
I like to think I'm getting better at writing these (this is the third year I've been a first-round Cybils panelist; I wrote the blurbs for Fever Crumb by Philip Reeve (Scholastic) in 2010 and Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman (HarperCollins) in 2009), but there's always more to say. I'm still sorry I wasn't able to work the giant, telepathic wolves into the final copy.
I would love to know, though: Would you read Dragon Castle? Why or why not? Because, ahem, you should.