As promised, I’m back with a review of the sequel to The Dragon of Lonely Island by Rebecca Rupp. This installment is called Return of the Dragon and though it was published seven years later, in the story not even a year has passed since the children first met Fafnyr. My son enjoyed this book just as much as the first; he is especially entertained by the stories that the dragon tells about children he’s helped and been helped by in the past.
What I like about these books is that Rupp writes in a way that has her characters spring into action almost immediately, rather than drawing the story out. In this case, Hannah, Zachary and Sarah Emily learn on page one that they will be traveling to Lonely Island to visit their great Aunt Mehitabel while their parents are in Europe for a couple of weeks. This time, Aunt Mehitabel will be joining them! She also met Fafnyr as a child and they haven’t had an opportunity to debrief with her in person since they left the island at the end of the previous summer.
Unfortunately, by page 4 we learn that she’s broken her ankle and will be unable to visit, after all. And by page 5, the children are on the island, being escorted to Aunt Mehitabel’s home on board Mr. Jones’s boat, the Martha. At the end of chapter one, Mr. Jones reveals that the island has seen its fair share of excitement lately. Visitors have docked in an area that is far too close to Fafnyr’s resting place at Drake’s Hill. See what I mean? We’re right in the action!
Troubled by this news, the kids decide to set out early the next morning to investigate these mysterious visitors. When they arrive at the beach, they discover 5 tents have been erected; it’s some sort of camp. The spy a man as he emerges from one of the tents, though they lose sight of him as he walks toward the ocean. They carefully make their way back to Drake’s Hill to fill Fafnyr in on the situation. As they ascend the stony steps to the entrance of the cave, a giant white yacht is suddenly revealed, docked just below them!
A man appears on the deck and uses binoculars to scan the skies. Zachary is immediately certain that he’s observing Fafnyr’s cave, however Hannah is sure he’s simply bird watching. The kids duck into the entrance to visit their special friend. Zachary is still certain that the visitors spell trouble but Fafnyr is ever so pragmatic, encouraging the children to consider that they mean no ill will. As the reader, this is somewhat frustrating, as you know better even if you don’t have all of the info yet.
The children return home where Mrs. Jones meets them with strange news. A visitor by the name of J.P. King is waiting in the parlor to speak with them. We learn from Zachary that J.P. King is a reclusive billionaire, about which little is known. Why he would want to speak with the kids, and why Mrs. Jones would leave them alone to do so, is hard to fathom as an adult reader but for the sake of the story, let’s go along with it.
Mr. King tells the children that he just happened to be passing by the island on his yacht (yeah, right) and was struck by its natural beauty. He says that he believed the island to be deserted and so allowed his team to set up a camp on the beach. The kids inform him that Aunt Mehitabel does not allow visitors, to which he feigns concern and responds that he will write her to request permission to remain on the island temporarily. In the meantime, he will plan to keep his camp and his yacht where they are. The nerve!
As you can imagine, the remainder of the book is focused on the real reason J.P. King is on the island, as well as the children’s attempts to keep their dear friend Fafnyr safe from any ill intent. We learn the true identity of the mysterious billionaire and how his and Aunt Mehitabel’s personal histories are linked. Even as an adult, I have to say that the story has enough intrigue to keep you interested and the boldness by Mr. King and his crew will keep you on the edge of your seat as to how things will end!
As in the first book, we are treated to stories from the dragon’s past that are both entertaining and illuminating, teaching the reader lessons of what is most important in life. This is my son’s favorite part and he wishes there were more than three in each.
The first story is about Niko, a shepherd boy in ancient Greece. His village is being terrorized by a creature that snatches and kills sheep without being seen. Could the beast possibly be Fafnyr? Or is it a case of mistaken identity? Will the angry mob of villagers reach Fafnyr before Niko is able to warn him?
The second story introduces medieval era children Gawain and Eleanor. Both children are servants in the court of Lord Charles and Lady Margaret, though they dream of greater lives beyond the castle walls. They become heroes to Sir Tristam when they nurse him back to health using Fafnyr’s guidance. Will they be rewarded for their care of the wounded warrior?
Lastly, we meet Sallie, whose family are slaves living on a plantation in Alabama before the start of the Civil War. She meets Fafnyr after becoming lost one day and tells him of her family’s plight. When her parents decide to flee to freedom using the Underground Railroad, Fafnyr uses his skills of fire breathing to keep slave hunters at bay, allowing the family to escape to the safety of Ohio.
In summation, the sequel is as entertaining as the original. My son and I whipped through the book in two nights and have a couple of Rupp’s non-Fafnyr books on hold at the library. I think we’ve found a new favorite author and I hope you feel the same way. Enjoy!