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Dragon Fire: Ocean Mist    by Yvonne Palka order for
Dragon Fire
by Yvonne Palka
Order:  USA  Can
HeartRock Press, 2009 (2009)
* *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

Combining her Asian brush painting skills with her storytelling ability, retired college professor Yvonne Palka spins a yarn about young children, and dragons and the adventures they share together along the shores of the Olympic National Park in Washington.

The inspiration for the sea dragons comes, in part, from the rocky area called the Point of Arches at Shi Shi Beach. Palka's delight in creating dragon stories comes from the times she took her own grandchildren to the beach and asked them if perhaps they thought the rocks in the sand were really sleeping dragons.

During one magical summer, two children, Jaxon and his sister Allie, discover a dragon family living in the caves on Shi Shi Beach. Forming a tight bond with Shyla and Shoram, the two youngsters of the dragon family, the children enjoy a wonderful time of discovery.

Their dragon counterparts take Jaxon and Allie flying, they all play soccer together, and the foursome decides to tackle the challenging task of changing the wayward ways of Zorg, an unpleasant dragon who also lives on the beach.

An important aspect of the story is seeing how the dragons all discover their true colors. Certainly there is a little magic involved, but the most important aspect of the transformation is letting what is in their hearts come forth. As the text explains, 'The changing of colors had indeed been miraculous, but all of them knew that the real miracle was the changing of Zorg's heart ... And in the deepest place in their hearts, they each felt glad about helping Zorg to reclaim his true colors.'

With Palka's sumi-e brushwork supplying the illustrations and an informative reader's guide at the end of the book that discusses the story's actual setting, dragons in literature and brush painting, this is an interesting tale for young readers ready to handle a chapter book. Dragon Fire: Ocean Mist also received the 2009 bronze medal in the Best First Chapter Book category of the Moonbeam Children's Book Awards sponsored by the Jenkins Group Publishing service.

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