Welcome to #ChildrensBookWeek! This series of discussions on children’s literature is sponsored by the Genre Underground.
As a kid who started reading very early (like, very early) I missed a lot of the time that readers spend in the literature which falls between picture books and YA/adult. Middle-grade books hardly ever interested me, because by the time I was their age, I was already immersed in the lands of Xanth, Krynn, and more.
However, there was one middle-grade author that kept me reading his work all the way into high school: Bruce Coville.
If there was ever an under-appreciated master of the form, spinning worlds of delight and imagination for kids, it’s this guy. Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher isstill one of my favorite books of all time. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read it, but my first copy has long since crumbled into its composite pages.
In case you’re unfamiliar with it, Jeremy Thatcher features the eponymous boy who discovers a magic shop, from which he purchases a bauble. This strange shiny thing turns out to be a dragon’s egg (much as the shopkeeper warned him) and when it actually hatches, Jeremy has to figure out what to do with this critter that just keeps growing.
Now, maybe the reason this book spoke to me is just because I so badly wanted to be this character when I was young. I really would have given just about anything to find that magic shop, consequences be damned (I still want a dragon–come on, scientists, where are our DNA-designer pets?!). Whatever the reason, this story endures in my mind as a formative experience, something that truly resonated with my young brain like a perfect harmony.
From the comical and whimsical to the more somber adventure, Mr. Coville always seemed to bring his A-game. His books teemed with aliens, monsters, magic and wonder, and each one was a fresh delight when I discovered a new one hiding in the school’s library. Even as I got to high school, I would still always put time aside for a new Coville book.
As time has worn on, it has unfortunately been a while since I’ve sat down and read (or re-read) a Coville adventure, but as soon as the topic of children’s books came up, I knew that this was what I wanted to share. Someday I’ll have kids of my own, and I hope that these stories will instill in them the same sense of magic and wonder that they did for me.
What’s your favorite Coville book? Sound off in the comments!