Book: Dragons in a Bag (Dragons in a Bag 1) by Zetta Elliott
Release Date: October 23rd 2018
Tags: Middle Grade | Fantasy | Dragon Eggs | Dragons | Magic |Alternate Worlds | Urban Fantasy | Portal Fantasy | Madagascar Inspired
When Jaxon is sent to spend the day with a mean old lady his mother calls Ma, he finds out she’s not his grandmother–but she is a witch! She needs his help delivering baby dragons to a magical world where they’ll be safe. There are two rules when it comes to the dragons: don’t let them out of the bag, and don’t feed them anything sweet. Before he knows it, Jax and his friends Vikram and Kavita have broken both rules! Will Jax get the baby dragons delivered safe and sound? Or will they be lost in Brooklyn forever?
In the current middle grade world a lot of newer fantasy books are quite large, like Nevermoor and Cressida Cowell’s books. While they are quick reads I can imagine that it might be hard for some young readers to pick them up. Dragons in a Bag is a fresh air in that regard with only 160 pages.
Dragons in a Bag follows young Jaxon who is in a hard place. His mom and him are being threatened with eviction, and there is not much to do about it. When his mom has to got to court she leaves him with this weird old lady who his mom calls Ma. She’s mean and Jaxon wants nothing more than to run out of her appartment. But when he discovers she has baby dragons and is a witch, he is dragged along on an adventure. And along the way he finds out that this mean spirited old lady really isn’t all that mean.
This book really is an excellent start to a middle grade series. It opens the doors to a new magical world but leaves more than enough to explore for the later books. With just 160 pages it is fast-paced, but takes the time to set up the world and to get to know the characters. Jaxon is well aware of the place that he takes up in society as a black boy with a single mom in a large city in America, even if it shouldn’t be that way.
The magic and some magical worlds are inspired by Madagascar which I think makes this book even richer. You don’t often see Madagascar used in books, especially middle grade.
The only downside to this book is that there is no real closure at the end of this book. It made the ending very forced and awkward. So if you are going to re be reading this with your young reader, please make sure you have the new few books that are out already available.