I have no patience for kids’ stories that are gummied up for parents or adult stories that are dumbed down for kids. Be one or the other, I say.
Danny Birt’s Between a Roc and a Hard Place is truly both for adults and kids. A dragon egg is deposited in a birds’ nest and the dragon is brought up with a family of Rocs. The sentence structure is complex, the moral quandaries as old as civilization, and the plot is clever with a very modern resolution. There’s puns and “punnies” and wordplay—which Mr. Birt is so good at–that is just plain delightful. Hah! She’s protecting her pile of gold! Hah! I get it!
The background architecture for the story is very strong. The fantasy religion is tight and follows its own rules, the politics and governments (ok, they’re birds and salamanders, but they have a governing system of a sort) make sense and are consistent. All is exactly what I would demand in a book for someone my age.
And there are pictures! This fellow, Richard Svennson, must have had just a grand old time drawing one dragon picture after another. I love these ugly baby birds with their disapproving frowns. I like that Svennson didn’t baby-face this dragon. She looks fierce right out of the egg.
With vocabulary like “requisite” and “subsequent”, grown-up sentence structure such as “taking umbrage”, and “Rocs…never suffered their dominance over the skies to be challenged”, mature ecological issues of habitat destruction and land useage, this is a great book for adults and kids to read and discuss together. The book has growing up concepts, too. Tephra learns to be her own person…er, dragon, whatever… rather than spending heartache on her physical differences between her and her roc family.
For the record, I cried on page two, three, and fourty-three.
And there’s a little bit of romance, too. Nyah!