Reviewed by Sharon Brunner
Nikki Mitchell’s book Season of Dragons provides readers with adventure, magic, and masterful resolutions. The main locations in the book are Wisconsin and another place in a different world. The time period appears to be in the present with a child named Ichabod who experiences modern-day circumstances when in Wisconsin and magical experiences when at the other realm. Ichabod faces struggles in a large family as a middle child in which both younger and older siblings outshine him. He feels invisible. On his way to school, he finds a dragon egg nestled near a tree and decides it would make the perfect item for show-and-tell at school. He suddenly finds himself being carried by a large individual and meets a new friend named Ingrid in a vastly different domain. Their adventures begin as they travel by foot and boat to the dragons’ lair.
The weather was unpredictable with snowstorms, hail, high winds, and lots of rain. Ichabod and Ingrid took off on an adventure to return the egg after Ingrid stressed her concern about the dragons destroying her village if they found out about the egg. They became separated and Ingrid was left behind in a boat while Ichabod trudged forward to return the dragon’s egg. A strange mist guided Ichabod to the dragons’ cave. The dragons represented the four seasons and they were engaged in fighting with one another. Their disputes caused irregular weather. The mist told Ichabod the dragons would eat him, so he ran off to find the grandmother dragon to seek her guidance and protection.
The four dragons’ disagreements reminded me of my childhood. I had a sister who was only one year and 2 weeks younger than I was. We were too close in age. It didn’t help that our mother dressed us alike. We often fought and were in competition with each other trying to outdo each other. We developed our own language complete with swear words. We said some of the words so often our mother told us to stop so we thought the words were real. Both of us looked at each other with big eyes. Each dragon wanted to be all-powerful and have the ability to control all the seasons. They made an attempt to outdo each other and be in full power of the weather.
Ichabod found the grandmother dragon with all her splendor. She was mostly white due to her age with many colors running through her scales when Ichabod looked closely. Gran wore cross-country skis that were a mile in length. Ichabod was given skis his size and they traveled for a while until it was time to have a picnic. Gran magically prepared their meal with lots of good food and drink. Ichabod told her that the mist told him the other dragons would eat him. Gran told him the mist lies. She laughed and told him dragons were vegetarians. They did not eat meat. I found that hard to believe. Their lunch did not include meat. Ichabod rode on Gran’s back to the dragons’ lair. He returned the egg and tried to defend Gran when the other dragons threatened her.
I liked Gran’s character. She acted like an actual grandmother when she provided good food, her manner of speaking and she provided Ichabod with a suitable object for show and tell after he lost the egg. Ichabod’s concern for Ingrid was endearing. The description of the four dragons and how they were associated with the four seasons was ingenuous. In the dragons’ world strict rules existed such as an appointment needed to be set up to see them. Ichabod did not know about the rule when he entered the cave to see them. Ichabod was grateful that he led him to Gran and the Dragons’ lair. Gran was personable while the other dragons appeared to be confrontational which appeared to be more normal.
The themes that became evident throughout the book involved determination, the need for adventure, loyalty, and real-life family dynamics. Ichabod was determined to return the dragon egg. He described himself as someone who loved to go on adventures. He filled a box with the things he collected while exploring. After he met Ingrid, he felt a sense of loyalty to find her and release her from her prison. Ichabod experienced typical family experiences, especially concerning large families.
Ichabod experienced parents who seemed to play favorites with their children. Of their six children, he felt he was the least favored as a middle child. Children know when they were considered less important. Ichabod was not athletic like his brothers and his sisters successfully participated in dance classes. He struggled with completing homework assignments but did well on tests. Teachers contacted his parents concerning his grades due to incomplete assignments. He received negative attention from his parents due to schoolwork. It may have been the only attention he received. In spite of his family’s dysfunction, he missed and wanted to return to his family when he was trapped in the other realm.
The book reminded me of the Game of Thrones books and movies concerning dragons. I have read and seen every book and movie in that series. The dragons could destroy entire villages like Ingrid feared. The dragons were honored by statues to appease them in her village. The statues carried specific meanings and had a role in the outcome of the story. Amy Klco’s books “Lake of Two Worlds” series represented the seasons and another dimension in which the main character entered when she crossed a bridge. Magical creatures existed in the other realm. The Harry Potter spin-off movie “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” also reminded me of this book. The movie was filled with beasts with magical powers. Mitchell introduced another world filled with magical beasts, dragons.
Nikki Mitchell brought to life a world filled with magical characters and a boy who struggled to return a possession to its rightful owner. As a reader, I was exposed to adventure, real-life family dynamics, and an enchanting story. Mitchell achieved bringing to life a boy who found himself in a different realm and how he faced his adventure with courage and determination. The dragons imposed a real threat concerning the safety of the villagers and they each represented a specific season. The book was a definite page-turner. It appeals to 4th to 6th graders and children ages 9 to 12. I recommend Season of Dragons for its captivating adventure and because of its enchanting scenes, endearing characters, magical beasts, and real-life family situations.