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FF6666: orphan going offroad towards home

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Dragons in a Bag: 01/15/19

Dragons in a Bag

Dragons in a Bag by Zetta Elliott is the first in a new series of middle grade urban fantasy books. When his mother is in a bind with her schedule, he's taken to "Ma's" house. She's a mean old lady who has nothing fun in her house and doesn't want him there. And then a strange package arrives at her house and Jaxon's life is changed forever.

In the box are some dragon eggs and they need to be delivered somewhere safe. Safe isn't Brooklyn. Safe is somewhere wild and somewhere with magic. Jaxon ends up spending his time helping Ma with her delivery and later, in rescuing her when they are separated.

Elliott has created a fascinating urban landscape that blends the ordinary of city life with the extraordinary of magic and alternate worlds. Just as Doctor Who has turned the now obsolete Police Boxes into a space ship and time machine, Jaxon's Brooklyn has ways into other worlds and times.

As the book is only 160 pages with illustrations, it would make a great book to read aloud in a classroom setting or as a bed time story over the course of about a week.

Placement of the book on the road narrative spectrum

Because Jaxon learns about his family and ends up collaborating first with an honorary grandmother and later with his actual father, the travelers for this book are a family (33). Ma is looking for a safe place, alternate dimension, for the dragons. That puts the destination in the utopia category (FF). Finally, the method Jaxon et al use to travel is a magical one, not a road based one. It is a decidedly offroad route (66). Put all together it's 33FF66.

If you look at the placement image, it appears that Dragons in a Bag should be horror. The genre placement on the spectrum is primarily based on White cisgendered male literature and narrative analysis. As I am actively trying to fill in the blanks by reading works by authors who don't fit into that category, I am finding that diverse writers don't find horror in the same situations.

In a White novel, family is supposed to be safe, ordinary, mundane even. Families are in domestic stories. Anything that threatens to disrupt normalcy instantly puts the narrative into the horror category.

This isn't the case with the books I've read by non-White authors. Family is strength. Families can rise up together to face the unknown. Families can travel to alternate worlds. Families can fight monsters and survive intact.

The second book is The Dragon Thief and it comes out later this year.

Five stars

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