D'LACEY, Chris. Gruffen. illus. by Adam Stower. 104p. (The Dragons of Wayward Crescent Series). CIP. Scholastic/Orchard. 2009. Tr $9.99. ISBN 978-0-545-16815-1. LC 2009011824.

Gr 2–4—Lucy is a typical nine-year-old, and her mother, Liz, is a sculptor best known for her quirky ceramic dragons. Their household appears to be an average one, but when they are alone, something magical happens: their dragons come to life. They all have special abilities, and Lucy and Liz call upon their talents when they need help. Liz creates Gruffen to protect Lucy after she sees a "monster" in her bedroom. Unfortunately, he is young and inexperienced, and causes quite a commotion in the process of dealing with the mysterious entity. He is not short on heart, though, and is determined to find a solution that makes everyone happy and safe—even the "monster." Aimed at younger readers than the audience for D'Lacey's "Last Dragon Chronicles" (Scholastic), this is a cozy and safe tale with bits of humor sprinkled throughout. Line drawings add visual interest; their cartoon style also enforces the light, upbeat mood. This is not a story for readers who are looking for adventure and excitement, but it will satisfy those who want a taste of dragon lore.—Amy Holland, Hamlin Public Library, NY


BATESON, Catherine. Magenta McPhee. 176p. CIP. Holiday House. Mar. 2010. Tr $16.95. ISBN 978-0-8234-2253-1. LC 2009010854.

Gr 4–6—Magenta McPhee is not your average middle school student. When she isn't penning her fantasy trilogy, she's an aspiring matchmaker who—with prodding from her friend Polly—delves into the world of online dating with the hope of finding a companion for her divorced father. But writing isn't easy, and neither is matchmaking. The conclusion is less "happily-ever-after" and more "content-for-now," but the protagonist shows readers that life can still be pretty great even without the fairy-tale ending. Magenta McPhee is part Harriet the Spy and part Parent Trap, but far from derivative. The protagonist is as bright and colorful as her name implies. Her witty, down-to-earth narrative will have readers rooting for her from start to finish. Though her ambitions and observations may seem mature for a middle schooler, the plot develops in a realistic and satisfying manner. And, far from being a drawback, Magenta's precocious musings about her life may serve as an instructive model for young readers.—Amy Holland, Hamlin Public Library, NY