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by Dr. Ernest Drake and Dugald Steer

Back in 2003, Dragonology hit bookstore shelves, launching the “Ologies” series. I remember thinking at the time that it was the perfect Christmas present for a kid. Every year, a new book would come out, and the quality of each volume was such that in spite of the fact that I was well outside the intended audience age range, I had to check them out. This year, I thought it would be fun to look back and review some of my favorite volumes from the series. First up? Dragonology!

Written by the renowned 19th century dragonologist Ernest Drake, Dragonology is a compilation of all that is known about dragons. He introduces readers to the many species of dragons, both Eastern and Western, dragon biology and physiology, behavior and natural history of the great beasts, and even spells that can be crafted from the remains of deceased dragons. In addition to the text and color illustrations, Drake's magnum opus contains samples of dragon skin, fold-out pages, letters, and other removable ephemera.

Dragonology is a cool book. It reminds me a bit of The Flight of Dragons, but aimed at a younger audience and with more interactive features. (I wasn't surprised to learn that one of the contributing illustrators for Dragonology, Wayne Anderson, was also the illustrator behind Dickinson's text.) It's always fun to “What if?” about dragons, and try to figure out how they would fly, breathe fire, and all that good stuff.

One of the reasons this book, and subsequent Ologies books, is so much fun is that it has enhanced novelty features. In some ways, this has been designed to be like a scrapbook, with little bits glued directly onto the page. For example, textured “dragon skin” from the major dragon species shimmers on the page. There is a sample record book for field observation and a mini-book of riddles and puzzles for distracting and befriending dragons. Letters have been placed in sealed envelopes, which the reader can pull out and read. When Dragonology first came out, children's books didn't have this level of interactivity – or if they did, it certainly wasn't done with this level of artistry and cleverness, because I remember being blown away by the detail the first time I picked this up. Even now, nine years later, I'm still impressed by the craftsmanship and clever design of this book.

5 out of 5 stars

To read more about Dragonology, buy it or add it to your wishlist click here.

Peeking into the archives...today in:
2011: The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory
2010: Unwritten Vol. 1 by Mike Carey and Peter Gross
2009: Going on hiatus...
2008: News: No More Ashes at Austen Museum


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