Montana Public Radio

A Dragon, Naturals, And Magicals! Logan Reviews

Mar 22, 2016

Review by Logan H. Wilson

A Dragon’s Guide to Making Your Human Smarter by Laurence Yep and Joanne Ryder is fun to read and I would recommend it to people of all ages, as long as they are able to handle suspense. It is the second book in the series, and even better than the first. The main characters are Winnie, which is short for Winifred, and Miss Drake. Miss Drake is a dragon but Winnie is a 10-year-old girl. The way Miss Drake thinks of it, Winnie is her pet, but from Winnie’s point of view, Miss Drake is her pet.

Actually, Miss Drake had Winnie’s great aunt, Amelia, as a pet, too, and now that she’s gone, Miss Drake and Winnie live in her old mansion together.

The school in the book, Spriggs Academy, is for magicals. Magicals are magical beings like dwarves or people who can use magic. Yep and Ryder name many of the students at Spriggs Academy from fairy tales from all around the world. Some of the characters are named after fairytale characters from Poland and Czechoslovakia, for example.  

The magicals call humans naturals. Winnie is a natural, but she goes to Sprigs Academy because of Miss Drake. She actually has Sir Isaac Newton as a teacher – THE Sir Isaac Newton - the same one who discovered gravity, if that helps. In this telling, he discovered the philosophers stone, but Winnie keeps that secret. I would enjoy going to Spriggs Academy as long as the bullies didn’t get involved. This book deals with some real issues kids might face, like bullies, but Winnie is effective at standing up for herself without being mean. Winnie is very compassionate.

In this story, Winnie’s grandfather is trying to kidnap her and only a secret word will make him stop. As it turns out, he still has a raggedy teddy bear! It’s hilarious!

While reading, I got excited for the next book in the series to come out because I enjoyed it so much. It was adventurous, fun, mega goofy, and hard to put down.

A Dragon’s Guide to Making Your Human Smarter
Lawrence Yep and Jessica Ryder,  Mary GrandPre (Illustrator)
304 pages
Crown Books for Young Readers
Ages 8 - 12

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Lawrence Yep is the acclaimed author of more than sixty books for young people and a winner of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award. His illustrious list of novels includes the Newbery Honor Books Dragonwings and Dragon's Gate; The Earth Dragon Awakes: The San Francisco Earthquake of 1906, a Texas Bluebonnet Award nominee; and The Dragon's Child: A Story of Angel Island, which he cowrote with his niece, Dr. Kathleen S. Yep, and was named a New York Public Library's "One Hundred Titles for Reading and Sharing" and a Bank Street College of Education Best Children's Book.

Mr. Yep grew up in San Francisco, where he was born. He attended Marquette University, graduated from the University of California at Santa Cruz, and received his PhD from the State University of New York at Buffalo. He lives in Pacific Grove, California, with his wife, the writer Joanne Ryder.

Joanne Ryder is the author of many books for children, including Each Living Thing, illustrated by Ashley Wolff, The Snail's Spell, Earthdance, and My Father's Hands. Ms. Ryder received The American Nature Study Society's award for her numerous books about the natural world. She lives in Pacific Grove, California, with her husband, the writer Lawrence Yep.

Logan H. Wilson
Credit Courtesy: Lisa Davey

Logan H. Wilson is a 10-year-old boy from Missoula, Montana. He loves reading, of course, and is rarely seen without a book. His favorite authors include J.K. Rowling, Tolkien, Brian Jacques, and Christopher Paolini. The Eragon books are one of his favorite series. In addition to reading, he is a serious rock hound who likes looking for crystals and collecting interesting rocks.  He is also interested in art and chemistry. When he grows up, he wants to be an inorganic chemist who reviews books in his spare time.