3 out of 4 stars
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The world of Artania - a land made from the art in our world - is in trouble. The Shadow Swine invade the dreams of children, giving them nightmares to make them stop creating the art that makes up their world. The whiteness is growing by the day and, if unchecked, will completely erase Artania.
Bartholomew, Alex, and Gwen are tasked with the protection of Artania. The three middle school children have been twice before and managed to stop the evil plans of the Shadow Swine. Now, it seems that the Shadow Swine have a new secret weapon; Bartholomew, Alex, and Gwen must find the Golden Dragons or all will be lost! Will the three manage to put aside their differences and embrace their fears to save Artania?
Dragon Sky by Laurie Woodward is the third book in the Artania series. The target audience for this book is middle school to early high school age children, but there is something even for adults to enjoy if you don't mind a more simplistic storyline. Though it's the third book in the series, it does stand alone. While it only hints at earlier stories, the book might have a bit deeper meaning if the series is read in order; however, I still enjoyed it without reading the previous books.
I was most impressed with the author's imagination. A land consisting of sculptures, paintings, and models from children in the real world is somewhat unique in literature. The descriptions Ms. Woodward's provides, though, enabled me to picture the land easily. "Painted oak and ash trees sprouted from play dough soil. Construction paper shrubs swished in the breeze."
In addition, since the book is meant for a younger audience, the author tells the story with clean language. When some of the characters' express their frustration, they use unique phrases instead of cussing. For example, at one point, Bartholomew wonders, "...what the washcloths he was thinking."
The book is fast-paced, but the author takes her time setting up the story. This insured the reader would know the characters more thoroughly, helping to empathize with their plights. At the same time, the author does not allow the reader to get bored. With younger readers, this is especially important.
Two other things make the book even more impressive. First, even though the book is part of a continuing series, this particular arc is wrapped up. Ms. Woodward doesn't end on a cliffhanger, but she uses your love of the world and characters to keep you returning; it was quite admirable. Second, the plot includes a lesson that children (probably adults, too) would do well to learn early. That alone makes me want to recommend this book.
I wish my review ended there. Unfortunately, the book needs some help on the editing front. I found ten errors rather quickly within the story. Most of these consisted of missing words, and they were throughout the book. There was also the occasional spacing issue or missing apostrophe. All of the errors would quickly be taken care of by a proofreader, but they were somewhat distracting.
I am highly impressed with Dragon Sky and rate it 3 out of 4 stars only due to the lack of professional editing. I recommend it to any adult with middle school or early high school age children. It could even be a series that parents read aloud to their elementary school children. Though the stories are entirely distinct, this reminds me of Harry Potter because the series could be enjoyed by adults and children alike; the imagination of both authors leads to an enjoyable adventure series in both cases. I can't wait to see what becomes of Alex, Bartholomew, and Gwen (as well as Artania) in the future.
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