Synopsis from Scholastic:
Abel loves dragons, but after a disastrous showing in his dragon rider exam, he feels he’s destined never to pilot one. That’s why when an opportunity presents itself — even though it’s tied to one of Drakopolis’s mob-like kins — Abel leaps at the opportunity.
But soon he’s swept into a game of danger and cruelty — cruelty toward people, and especially toward dragons. With his own family’s loyalties split between the kins, soon Abel will need to choose a side.
Will he join one of the kins . . . or strike a path all his own?
About: Battle Dragons: City of Thieves is a middle grade science fiction written by Alex London. It was recently published on 9/21/2021 by Scholastic, hardcover, 272 pages. The genres are science fiction, middle grade, LGBT, and dragons. This book is intended for readers ages 8 to 12, grades 3 to 7. According to the publisher’s website, “Scholastic was founded in 1920 as a single classroom magazine. Today, Scholastic books and educational materials are in tens of thousands of schools and tens of millions of homes worldwide, helping to Open a World of Possible for children across the globe” and their mission is to “encourage the intellectual and personal growth of all children, beginning with literacy.” Please see below for more information about the publisher and author.
My Experience: I started reading and listening to an audiobook for Battle Dragons: City of Thieves on 1/3/2022 and finished it on 1/13/2022. An excellent read, this book brought out a new world of people living among dragons. The school bus that took Abel to school everyday was a dragon! How cool! Definitely loved the idea of dragons burning our trash. This is my first middle grade read where young readers are introduced to gender non-binary. My 10 year old son read this book and learned about Roa, who’s pronoun was they/them. He took in this new knowledge well. He loved reading this story too and have since read it twice. (My other reads with gender non-binary characters: Small Knight and the Anxiety Monster, A Psalm for the Wild-Built, and The Love Square). I enjoyed the sprinkle of surprises as the story moved forward. The audiobook was excellent. The narrator did a good job with tones and voice changes, especially when Abel was scared by the huge dragon. I liked that this story gave learning opportunities to young readers by introducing them to new terms such as benefactor and catastrophizing. I appreciate the author teaching young readers to calm down, take deep breaths, and imagine rainbows when they are stressed out. I loved that my 10 year old got to learn the OODA loop: Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act!
This book followed Abel, 13, as he tried his best to stay awake until midnight to see the Department of Sanitation at work. One dragon fly around to burn the trash on the roof of buildings and another fly after the first to eat up the ashes. While watching out of the window before midnight, he saw a figure dressed in black leaping around outside of his building, which was crazy because they would risk getting eaten up by the dragon cleaning crew. It was his older sister Lina. Lina came to Abel to ask him to promise to protect something of hers, but didn’t have time to explain what it was. At 11, Abel failed his Dragon Rider Academy Entrance Exam because he’s afraid of heights and easily distracted so now he attended a normal junior high. He still dreamed of being a dragon rider though, at least sometimes. There were gangs of criminals called kin in the city of Drakopolis and the well known ones were Red Talons, Sky Knights, and Thunder Wings. They use dragons to battle against each other. With their power and fame, they can intimidate people in different ways. Many people want to be in a kin for different reasons. Abel has an older brother named Silas, 19, a cadet at the Academy. Silas wanted to find Lina just as much as the Red Talons because he has surveillance video showing Lina stealing a dragon. Silas said the secret police called Dragon Eye were after Lina too. Abel didn’t want to handle his sister’s secret alone so he enlisted his best friend, Roa to help. Abel got a surprise of his life when he entered his sister’s secret room. This book was divided into 4 parts.
Battle Dragons: City of Thieves was well written and a fast paced read! The humor in this story was fantastic, especially Abel’s dad with his spiffy comments. I think many young readers can relate to Abel. Not an A student but do know how to utilize what he learned or heard from various peoples. His best friend Roa was great. An A student who liked to bend school rules. The school bully Topher wasn’t bad once people gave him a break. The ending was definitely a surprise I didn’t see coming. Abel’s family were unlike others. The siblings each had their own beliefs about what’s right vs wrong. They disagreed with each other. Their parents were the super glue that tried to hold the siblings together. This middle grade book challenge young characters to take on adult troubles. Abel had to come up with ideas to keep his family safe and to protect the dragons he loved. He was scared but he had friends and WW3D plus the OODA loop to brave him up. A great read and I highly recommend everyone to read it!
I rate it 5 stars!
About the Author:
Alex London is the author of over 25 books for children, teens, and adults, with over 2 million copies sold. He’s the author of the middle grade Dog Tags, Tides of War, Wild Ones, and Accidental Adventures series, as well as two titles in the 39 Clues. His latest middle grade series, Battle Dragons, is out in September 2021. For young adults, he’s the author of the cyberpunk duology Proxy, an ALA Top Ten Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Readers, Best Fiction For Young Adults, and Rainbow List selection. His new epic fantasy series, Black Wings Beating, was an NBC Today Show Pick, a Kirkus Best Young Adult Fantasy selection, a Seventeen Magazine best of 2018 pick, and a We Need Diverse Books 2018 Must Read, and a 2020 Rainbow List selection. He’s been a journalist reporting from conflict zones and refugee camps, a young adult librarian with New York Public Library, an assistant to a Hollywood film agent, and a snorkel salesman. He lives with his husband and daughter in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo and info obtained from the author’s website https://www.calexanderlondon.com/about-alex).
More Information about Scholastic
***Disclaimer: Many thanks to Scholastic for the opportunity to read and review. Please be assured that my opinions are honest.