Werewolf versus Dragon by David Sinden, Matthew Morgan, Guy Macdonald
Illustrated by Jonny Duddle
An Awfully Beastly Business, Book 1
Finished: June 16, 2009
First Published: 2008 (UK), Apr. 28, 2009 (NA)
Genre: children, fantasy
Ulf watched the radar screen.
Reason for Reading: It simply appealed to me: the cover, the title and the write-up. When I received it I thought it would make a good read-aloud to my 9yo, and it did. I received a review copy from Simon & Schuster Canada.
Comments: Ulf lives at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Beasts, more commonly called the RSPCB. It is a large castle-type building and estate somewhere in the UK which houses injured or otherwise in need of care beasts such as trolls, rocs, giants, biganasties, faries, sea serpents, or in Ulf's case, werewolves. A baby dragon is found shot on the premises as they watch the mother fly away. Next day an Inspector from the department of National and International Criminal Emergencies (NICE) arrives to explain an evil criminal who is gathering beasts for his own dastardly amusement is on the loose. So with the help of Dr. Fielding, Orson the giant and Tiana the fairy they try to find the mother dragon before it is too late.
This is a book for the younger set and I must say I figured out the whole "secret" right from the beginning but my 9 year did not see it coming a mile away and was shocked with the reveal at the end. This is a lot of fun. It's sort of a twist on the boarding school type of story only this time we basically have a house and grounds that are filled with beasts (not unlike a zoo) instead of other children. A lot of time is spent at the beginning introducing the reader to the RSPCB so we meet many different kinds of beasts and our imagination can tell this is the place to be if you want lots of adventures. A third of the way through the plot picks up full speed and one thing after another happens leaving my son begging for one more chapter practically every day. This isn't a book with any deep hidden meanings or lessons to learn. It's simply just plain rollicking good fun about a boy (at least until the full moon comes around) and a bunch of beasts in the middle of a wicked adventure. My 9yo highly recommends it. We have the second book in the series which we will be reading next upon his request.
One thing I need to comment on is that the original UK versions were written by "The Beastly Boys". For North American publication they have changed this to the authors' actual names (or at least to what appear to be real names) and I think this was a smart publishing decision. I'm fairly certain that I, for one, would have been dubious to the quality of the book had I been given such a fake author's name and probably would have passed the book over otherwise and missed the treat of reading this series with my 9yo.