A children's book blog by Miriam Rainwater

A children's book blog by Miriam Rainwater

"TV. If kids are entertained by two letters, imagine the fun they'll have with twenty-six. Open your child's imagination. Open a book." ~ Author Unknown

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Dragon of Cripple Creek--Review and GIVEAWAY!

The Dragon of Cripple CreekReleased on April 1, 2011 by Amulet Books,  The Dragon of Cripple Creek by Troy Howell is one of the best middle grades novels I've read in a long time!  While written for ages 9-12, this book would also be a perfect family read-aloud. Troy Howell is the cover illustrator for the bestselling Redwall series by Brian Jacques.  The Dragon of Cripple Creek is his debut novel and is available in both hardcover and Kindle editions.

Katlin Graham's passion for gold has caused her to look for gold things all her life.  She even has gold fillings in her cavities. And Kat is always curious.
But Kat is also hurting.  Things haven't been easy since her mom fell and ended up brain dead in the Home and her dad lost his job.  The hunt for her dad's new job to pay the bills sends Kat's family into the rowdy, historical town of Cripple Creek, Colorado.  While on the Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine tour, Kat wanders off the trail to explore a closed-off tunnel, and after an accidental fall, she discovers a unbelievable secret.  Deep down beneath the mine lives a dragon named Ye--the last dragon on earth.
While in the mine, Kat steals a gold nugget from Ye, proving Ye's declaration that "greed is what is wrong with the world."  Later, when Kat is back in her world, she accidently lets the gold nugget roll out of her pocket for all to see.  A media-frenzy begins, until the town is swarming with gold seekers. Kat is horrified.
Kat knows that she must ask her brother, Dillon, to help her return the gold and save her dragon friend.  Can they make it to Ye in time or will the gold-hungry townspeople kill him first?

Besides having an excellent storyline that mixes the Wild West with Medieval dragons, The Dragon of Cripple Creek contains believable characters with names that make you chuckle like "Rex Havick."  Literary allusions also spot the text, including works of literature such as Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, Tolstoy's War and Peace, and Yeat's "The Folly of Being Comforted." 

Another wonderful thing about this book is that while it ends positively, it doesn't end sappily.  In fact, there's a bit of sadness at the end.  But it's a good sort of sadness that reveals truth about life to children without being depressing.  I was impressed by the author's way of wrapping up ends yet still leaving questions in order to challenge young readers to think about their world, the effects of a greedy heart, and the meaning of friendship and sacrificial love.

There are a few negative elements, however. A few times throughout the book, Kat gambles with dice several times, and (although he warns her), Kat's father doesn't stop her when he finds out she is cheating other children out of their pocket change.  When the dragon comes out of the cave at the end of the book, one of the terrified townsmen gasps, "What in hell's kennel" while another man starts praying the Lord's Prayer. In a moment of frustration, the dad says that his family has "been to Hades and back."  Parents may wish to discuss these elements of the story with their preteens.

But because, overall, The Dragon of Cripple Creek was such a great book....

The Twenty-Six Letter Imagination is holding a giveaway!

The Dragon of Cripple Creek
by Troy Howell
Released on April 1, 2011
From Amulet Books

Giveaway Rules:
1. You must be (or become) a follower to enter.
2. You must comment below to receive one (1) entry.
3. The giveaway will close on Saturday, May 21st, 2011 at 5 pm. EST.
4.. Winner will be randomly chosen.
5. Winner will be announced on the blog and will have one week to provide a mailing address before the book is given away to a different winner.
 6. Residents of the U.S. only, please. 
In order to receive extra entries, you may consider the following...

* You may receive one (1) extra entry for posting a link to this giveaway on Twitter using the hashtag #26letterdragon or tagging @26lettersblog
* You may receive one (1) extra entry for "liking" "The Twenty-Six Letter Imagination: A Children's Book Blog" on Facebook.
* You may receive one (1) addition entry for posting a link to this blog on Facebook and mentioning this link in your comment.
* You may receive (5) extra entries by posting about this giveaway on your own blog and providing me the link to your blog entry in your comment below.


  1. I am now a follower of your blog! It will be great to see some children's books I may not have otherwise noticed.

    I also did a Facebook link in which I tagged your FB page.

  2. I think I increased my chances of winning by 5 since I posted your blog on my blog AND followed you AND posted a comment. Whew! I sure hope I win.

  3. This is a great idea! Thanks for the opportunity to spread the news about your blog and a chance to win a book!!