Dragon Racer

Oni. Jun. 2021. 168p. pap. $12.99. ISBN 9781620109328.
Gr 2-5–Vern, a water dragon who was the runt of his family, was rescued by Elder Gust and brought to the human village to live safely away from his abusive brothers. Still insecure about his size, Vern becomes obsessed with cart racing and takes great pride in the beauty of his race car, Gale—though he isn’t nearly as successful when it comes to speed. While on a practice run with Gale, he meets two forest spirits, Claude and Stanley. Vern invites them to the Hippogryph Grand Prix race, and they eagerly join him back at his temple. Predictably, Vern chokes under the pressure and loses the race rather than risk Gale getting scratched up. When Tulip, a human from the kingdom, falls ill, Vern and his new spirit friends are her only chance at survival. Weiser crafts a heartfelt story of materialism, perseverance, and friendship that will resonate with readers. The range of character experiences and personalities will hold interest, and Vern’s growth emphasizes the importance of selflessness. The vocabulary may challenge younger readers at times, but the simple, straightforward, appealing art offers clues to the text. Though most of the characters are animals, the humans are diverse in skin tone.
VERDICT A dynamic, action-packed graphic novel bound to appeal to fans of racing and high jinks, with a solid message, too.

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