Dragon Fire: Ocean Mist
by Yvonne Palka

HeartRock Press, 2009. ISBN 978-0-981-76680-5.
Reviewed by Lee Ambrose
Posted on 03/17/2011

Younger Readers; Fiction: Paranormal

Shi Shi Beach is not an ordinary beach. There, at the Point of Arches, amid the sea stacks are the "Dragon Back Rocks." These formations are so named by Jaxon and Allie because they resemble dragon backs of course!

Jaxon and Allie spend summer vacations on the far northern state of Washington coast with their family. They love to go exploring along the Pacific coastline. Allie enjoys allowing nature to inspire her passion for drawing. But, one day, while sitting on a magic log, the Dragon Back Rocks begin to move. Amazed, the two soon discover that the beach is inhabited by a whole family of dragons.

As the story unfolds, the children learn about their world through the eyes of the dragons. The dragons, with their glistening and brilliantly colored scales, are gentle creatures with great respect for others and for their environment.

But all is not goodness and light on the Pacific coastal area of Shi Shi Beach. Another family of dragons lives nearby. These dragons are very self-centered and ill-natured. They are the dragon equivalent to the school-yard bully.

Palka brilliantly blends reality and fantasy while illustrating this delightful book with her alluring sumi-e (Asian brush) paintings to tell a story that is sure to bring much reading pleasure not only to her young readers but to their parents and adult friends as well. Lyrical writing draws the reader into this magical, mystical world where human and dragon values meet and sometimes collide. Gentle brush strokes give the reader permission to pause and savor the contents of each and every page.

Dragon Fire: Ocean Mist is the bronze winner of the Moonbeam Children's Book Awards. But, to my way of thinking, this work is of platinum quality.

Yvonne Palka is a retired college professor, biologist and naturalist. She is an award-winning sumi-e painter and author. She lives on Whidbey Island, Washington where she spends her days gardening, painting, writing and volunteering as a naturalist. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this book helps to support restoration and preservation of the wild places in the Puget Sound area. Visit her blog.

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