Alphabet of Dreams Shadow Spinner Ancient, Strange, and Lovely Falcon in the Glass Walk Across the Sea Dragon's Milk Flight of the Dragon Kyn

Ancient, Strange, and Lovely
Book 4 of
The Dragon Chronicles
Margaret K. McElderry Books
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Ancient, Strange, and Lovely

Bryn’s world is out of kilter. Pollution is causing weird weather and diseases that her mom, a scientist, was working to fix. But Mom disappeared on a research expedition in Alaska, and now Dad has gone off to find her. At least Bryn gets some comfort from kenning with her bird—though that ability makes her weird as well.

Things get seismic strange when Bryn discovers a huge egg in a box of her mother’s stuff—and it’s hatching. What emerges is a big baby lizard, and Bryn can sense its feelings, as she can with birds.

Bryn guesses the lizard is a cryptid—an ancient species thought to be extinct. That makes it valuable to black market poachers, and maybe valuable to her mom’s work as well. Bryn is determined to keep the creature safe. But it’s not easy to secretly raise a cryptid baby, especially when it starts to flame. For what Bryn really has is a baby dragon, a dracling. The poachers will be after her for sure. But what does it mean that Bryn can ken with it? Is she meant to protect it? How far will Bryn go to save what might be the last of its kind?


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A note from the author

When I was writing the other Dragon Chronicles, I had a foggy idea that sometime I might want to write a book that brings the dragons into the present day. I thought that maybe they had eventually moved west, maybe to some caves in the mountains of Alaska. But when I finished Sign of the Dove, a different book was calling me (Shadow Spinner), and somehow I never got back again to dragons.

Years passed. More books called. My daughter, Kelly, who was very young when I first told her the story of the girl who had to baby-sit dragons, grew up and became a microbiologist, using microbes to clean up environmental pollution. One day she told me about a rare lizard whose spit has special microbes in it—microbes that might be able to clean up some seriously wicked toxins. Aha! Suddenly the dragons were back again.

Why did lizard spit take me back to dragons?

Glad you asked.

Thing is, right from the get-go, the Dragon Chronicles were about endangered species. Look at some of the chapter heading quotes in Dragon’s Milk, for instance:

“The wild creatures of the earth are as milk for the human spirit; to destroy them is to starve our souls.”

See what I mean?

Even the dragonpod blooms—which I invented for Dragon’s Milk and nobody ever noticed but me—were part of my attempt to explore what we lose when a species goes extinct. The dragonpod flowers won’t open unless they’re exposed to dragon fire, but when they’re exposed and given a chance to grow, they make the ground more fertile.

Here’s where lizard spit comes in. If this lizard has microbes in its spit that might get rid of environmental toxins, who’s to say that dragons might not have similar microbes—only better? Who’s to say that they might not really help us to clean up some of the environmental messes we’ve made?

So if dragons disappear, you lose more than just the cool flying-and-flaming thing. You lose the ability to clean up the environment, too.

You buying any of this?

I have to say, I had a blast writing this book. Somehow, combining the awesome, ancient dragons with the funky little details of 21st century life—microfleece doggy jackets, YouTube, pooper scoopers, turkey basters, electric socks, lawn dwarfs—just tickled my funny bone. Also, I got to make up rock groups (Radioactive Fish, Mutant Tide) and songs (“Biopirate,” “Cryptid Rant.”)

On the other hand, this book was excruciatingly hard to write. I’m talking torture. So with the fun and the torture happening at the exact same time, it was like when you eat ice cream too fast and it freezes the inside of your nose.

But I hope it’s just ice cream to you!

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