Sample Book Ideas for Literature-Based Reading Enthusiasts
From the 1994 edition of:
The Handbook for the Young Reader's Choice
sponsored by the Pacific Northwest Library Association.
for more information contact
Gale Sherman: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bette Ammon: email@example.com
A 1994 Young Reader's Choice Award Nominee (Grade 4-8):
Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher
by Bruce Coville
|PUBLICATION DETAILS: ||Cloth: 160 pages. 1991. $16.95 (ISBN 0-15-200748-2). HBJ/Jane Yolen. Paper: 140 pages. $2.99 (ISBN 0-671-74782-7). Pocket Books.|
|GENRES: ||Fantasy, contemporary realistic fiction|
|THEMES: ||Dragons, love, magic, talent, artists, pets, secrets,
school life, friendship, communication-visual telepathy, emotions, boy/girl
relationships, invisibility, teachers|
|READABILITY: ||Fifth grade|
|INTEREST LEVEL: ||Fourth through eighth|
"Coville is most successful in melding the story's real and fantasy worlds and
in creating Tiamat's unusual means of communication (visual telepathy delivered
in an aura of colors), which seems an especially appropriate way of connecting
with the artistic Jeremy. This is a handsomely designed book, with sepia-tone
illustrations that enhance the story and with brown print on good-quality ivory
paper [hardback edition only]. Dragon buffs and imaginative readers alike will
enjoy Coville's light yet thoughtful fantasy." Booklist 87(18):1798 May
15, 1991. Kay Weisman.
"In this entertaining fantasy readers will soon realize that things are not
always as they seem....The book is filled with scenes that will bring laughter
and near tears to readers. Jeremy and his friends are believable characters;
their actions and reactions are typical of the children's age. Once again,
Coville offers a fantasy that younger readers can handle easily, and one in
which dragons really exist for a little while." School Library Journal
37(5):91 May 1991. Kenneth E. Kowen.
"This is intended for middle grade readers and is right on target. Not only is
the story involving but the reader can really get a feeling for Jeremy as a
person. Coville's technique of combining the real world with a fantasy one
works well in this story. Recommended." Voice of Youth Advocates
14(2):106 June 1991. Kathleen Redmond. (#4 quality, #4 popularity).
AWARDS AND NOTABLE LISTS
- International Reading Association Teacher's Choice
Bruce Coville grew up in a small town in upstate New York. He became hooked on
books at age eight after his father read aloud an original Tom Swift adventure.
Even though Coville also spent time watching television (he regrets that), he
read everything from Dr. Dolittle to the Hardy Boys plus "zillions of comic
books." He says he was "an absolute bookaholic." When Coville was in sixth
grade he wrote a short story for a class assignment and realized that writing
was something he wanted to do. Halloween is Coville's favorite holiday, his
school colors were black and orange, and he was employed for a while as a grave
digger. As a children's author, Coville tries to write stories about the things
he would have liked to read about. He says "the first and foremost job in
writing is to tell a whacking good story." Coville lives in a New York City
apartment with a cat named Spike.
Jeremy Thatcher's school problems are insignificant after he visits the strange
Magic Shop and comes home with a beautiful marbled egg. The egg comes with
instructions because Jeremy has been selected to be in the "Company of
Hatchers." He successfully hatches Tiamat, a small red-scaly dragon who grows
at an unbelievable pace, consuming vast quantities of milk and chicken livers.
Tiamat is invisible to everyone except the family pets and a classmate. Raising
a dragon isn't easy but Jeremy's research at the library and his experience as
a veterinarian's son stand him in good stead. Communicating through visual
telepathy, Jeremy and Tiamat become the best of friends and Tiamat's
inevitable return to her own world is difficult for them both. Jeremy
Hatcher... is part of the "Magic Shop Books" series which also includes
The Monster's Ring (XXX) and Jennifer Murdley's Toad by Coville
The thirteen chapters, frequent illustrations, and intriguing subject matter
make Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher an excellent candidate for individual
reading. It is prime booktalking material! However, you may want to read the
ten page chapter (#3, page 22 hardback and paperback editions) entitled
"Hatchling" on the day of a full moon to entice would-be readers.
Jeremy Thatcher has stumbled into a peculiar Magic Shop and, after looking
around, finds himself strangely attracted to a beautiful, multi-colored ball.
However, the Magic Shop owner refuses to sell it to him.
Muttering to himself, he reached out, took the ball from Jeremy,
and stared at it. For a moment he seemed worried. Then he sighed and shook his
head. "Do you have a quarter?" he asked. "What?" "I said, do you have a
quarter? You may have it for a quarter." Jeremy looked up in surprise. "I
thought you said I didn't want it." The old man looked directly into Jeremy's
eyes. "You don't," he said softly. "It wants you." (page 11, hardback
and paperback editions)How can a ball want a boy? Or is it
really a ball? The name of this book is Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher.
(Prop: make a facsimile of the instructions "How to Hatch a Dragon's Egg" on
page 17, hardback and paperback editions. Use parchment and spidery script as
illustrated on page 16.)
Jeremy thinks he has just purchased an ever-changing colored kaleidoscope ball
but then he looks at the piece of folded up paper that was placed in the box.
It says "How to Hatch a Dragon's Egg."
Read prop.With these instructions, Jeremy
Thatcher is about to become a Dragon Hatcher.
When Jeremy needs answers to questions he usually visits his local library.
There Miss Priest, the children's librarian is generally very helpful. But this
time his question may just be too strange.
Gathering the books he wanted to check out, he took them to Miss
Priest. "Did you find what you were looking for?" she asked. "Not everything,"
he admitted. Hyacinth Priest paused, then leaned toward him and said softly,
"Just exactly what are you looking for?" "...my question will sound
silly." The librarian looked directly into his eyes. "No question is silly if
you really want to know the answer," she said fiercely. "Okay," said Jeremy.
"Then what I want to know is, do you have anything on how to raise a
dragon?" Miss Priest smiled. "Of course," she said softly. (pages 42-43,
hardback and paperback editions)
Miss Priest magically produces exactly the book Jeremy needs from the bottom
drawer of her desk. Why would she have a book like that? Is she a dragon
Jeremy is a talented young artist and is distracted by having to raise a young
dragon. Inadvertently, he draws a dragon instead of the still-life required in
his art class. Let your students draw dragons. Create a gallery of dragons. Or,
like the contest in Jeremy's school, have an art contest with the winners
featured on the main school bulletin board, in the school newspaper, and/or on
school windows. Perhaps the winner could draw illustrations for a summer
Provide the following books for drawing ideas and techniques: Draw 50
Beasties and Yugglies and Turnover Uglies and Things That Go Bump in the
Night by Lee J. Ames (Doubleday, 1988), Draw 50 Monsters, Creeps,
Superheroes, Demons, Dragons, Nerds, Dirts, Ghouls, Giants, Vampires, Zombies,
and Other Curiosa... By Lee J. Ames (Doubleday, 1983), Drawing Dinosaurs
and Other Prehistoric Animals by Don Bolognese (Watts, 1982), How Do You
Draw Dinosaurs? by D.C. DuBosque (Peel, 1989), Starting Pencil
Drawing by Michael Woods (Dryad, 1988), and/or Drawing Reptiles by Paul
Frame (Watts, 1986).
Many people love dragons and dragonlore. Include in your library or classroom a
collection of dragon books featuring titles such as The Flight of
Dragons by Peter Dickinson (Harper, 1979) which combines fact with fantasy
and proposes the possibility of the true existence of dragons. Also consult
A Book of Dragons by Hosie and Leonard Baskin (Knopf, 1985) which
features a brief introduction to twenty-two famous mythological and literary
dragons. Dragons and Dreams by Jane Yolen, Martin H. Greenberg and
Charles G. Waugh (Harper, 1986) is a collection of science fiction and fantasy
short stories featuring dragons. Others include Dragons, Gods and Spirits
from Chinese Mythology by Geraldine Harris (Schocken, 1983) and The
Truth About Dragon by Rhoda Blumberg (Four Winds, 1980).
Provide a video--Merlin and the Dragon from "Stories to Remember" series
produced by Joshua M. Greene (Lightyear Entertainment) for further enrichment.
Students may be unaware of the dedications pages that usually precede the Table
of Contents. Coville's dedication in Jeremy Thatcher..., is special and
interesting. Most books have dedication pages, some more interesting than
others. Students can easily read hundreds of dedications in a short time,
looking for the best to share with classmates. If they write a book, who would
they dedicate it to and how? (Giving students the opportunity to handle
quantities of books without having to read them may result in students
voluntarily selecting books to read that they ordinarily would never have
While Jeremy waits for the dragon egg to hatch, he observes the constellations.
Use this idea as a springboard for further study of the constellations.
Students can build models of various constellations, and/or do further reading.
Suggested titles include The Sky Observer's Guide by Newton Mayall, et
al. (Western, 1985), Starwatch by Ben Mayer (Putnam, 1984), The Space
Atlas by Heather Couper and Nigel Henbest (Gulliver/Harcourt, 1992),
Look to the Night Sky: An Introduction to Star Watching by Seymour
Simon(Penguin, 1977), Sun Dogs and Shooting Stars: A Sky-watchers
Calendar by Franklyn M. Branley (Houghton, 1980), and/or About Stars and
Planets by James Muirden (Watts, 1987).
IF YOU LOVED THIS, YOU'LL LIKE...
- Alcock, Vivien. The Monster Garden
- Duane, Diane. So You Want to Be a Wizard
- Fletcher, Susan. Dragon's Milk
- McCaffrey, Ann. The "Harper Hall" trilogy
- Sargent, Sarah. WaterMusic
- ___. Weird Henry Berg
- Singer, Marilyn. California Demon
- Tolkien, J.R.R. The Hobbit (graphic novel adaptation, Ballantine
- Yep, Laurence. The Dragon of the Lost Sea
- ___. Dragon Steel
- ___. Dragon Cauldron
- Yolen, Jane. "Pit Dragon" trilogy
- ___. Wizard's Hall
SOME OTHER BOOKS BY THIS AUTHOR
| Young Reader's Choice Awards | More Sample Book Ideas |
- The Foolish Giant
- The Unicorn Treasury
- The Ghost in the Third Row
- Goblins in the Castle
- Jennifer Murdley's Toad: A Magic Shop Book
- My Teacher is an Alien
- My Teacher Fried My Brains
- Herds of Thunder, Manes of Gold
- The Monster's Ring
- Space Brat
Copyright © 1993 by Gale Sherman & Bette Ammon. All right reserved.
Converted to HTML with permission, by David K. Brown for the Children's Literature Web Guide