Dragonbreath: Lair of the Bat Monster
by Ursula Vernon
Dial Books, 2011
review copy purchased for my classroom library
I love this series.
Maybe we should start with the three reasons I love this series:
1. The humor. (This reason encompasses characters, setting, plot, plot twists, a magic bus that isn't driven by Ms. Frizzle, and recurring themes -- "Can it skeletonize a cow in under two weeks?" They are all FUNNY!!)
2. The way every book is better than the one before it.
3. The design of the book. (This reason encompasses size, shape, illustrations, colors, and its hybrid graphic novel-ness.)
So. That pretty much covers it. I love everything about this series.
In this installment, Vernon blends graphic novel, fantasy novel, humor, and NONFICTION ABOUT ENDANGERED RAIN FORESTS AND RAIN FOREST ANIMALS AND MAYAN MYTHOLOGY all in one book. Brilliant, no?
Danny Dragonbreath and his sidekick Wendell rescue a bat from the swimming pool. They ride the magic bus to the rainforests of Mexico, where Danny's cousin Steve is trying to discover a new species of bat in order to save bat habitat in the rainforest. Steve teaches them about the bat they saved, and then invites them to see the bat cave he's discovered. They see the bat cave, with bats pouring out of it at dusk, but something odd happens -- all the bats fly back into the cave.
"Something burst out of the trees.
...it was huge. It wasn't an animal sort of huge, it was the huge he associated with cranes and bulldozers and building equipment. The elephants at the zoo were big, but this was the size of a house, and it wasn't moving like anything he'd ever seen.
Then it stepped forward, and he thought of a gorilla the size of a building, like King Kong, because that was how it moved, big shoulders and arms crashing down, and smaller hindquarters swinging forward.
Except that it wasn't a gorilla.
'Holy crud,' breathed Danny. 'it's a bat.' "Turns out, it's Camazotz (Mrs. Camazotz, to be exact) of Mayan Mythology fame. And she grabs Danny to keep as her pet. And Steve and Wendell have to save Danny. And Wendell is a self-proclaimed scaredy cat. ("They had a system. Danny was fearless and Wendell was terrified, and it worked out between them.")
And now I'm going to stop writing so you can go get the book and read it for yourself.