by Donn Kushner
I read a review on Savidge Reads today about a book I've been wanting to read, Firmin. It reminded me of another book I read several years ago, about another small animal who loved books, this one a dragon. I saw it on a clearance table at a bookstore one day, and was curious enough to buy it.
A Book Dragon is a charming tale about a dragon called Nonesuch, who is the last of his kind. It covers some six hundred years of his life, starting out when he is a young dragon living in a medieval forest. Needing a treasure to guard, Nonesuch forsakes the usual gold and instead chooses an illuminated book. For a time he observes the monk who illustrated the volume, then accompanies the book on its journey through the centuries. He survives while his relatives die out, by his ability to change size in order to hide. He watches humans from secrecy, reflecting on their various follies, and in the end is a little dragon no larger than an insect, haunting a modern bookshop and still guarding his precious book. At one point a rat teaches him how to read, and Nonesuch can finally value his book not merely as a physical object (albeit a beautiful one) but for the words it contains. A Book Dragon is an engaging little fantasy, written for younger readers but with intriguing little details and clever explanations (like how the dragon survived into modern times by fasting, hibernating and changing shape). There is some moralizing in the tale, and Nonesuch deals out his own form of justice, to people he feels deserve it. A story sure to charm booklovers who like a little light fantasy.
Rating: 3/5 ........ 197 pages, 1987