"You should have given it to
me," Addy said.
"Given you what?'
"Your old bow."
I threatened to give it to
her with an arrow...stuck where she didn't want it.
"You can't," she said. I saw
you throw it in the duck pond. Why?"
"It was useless and never
would shoot straight."
"I doubt that was the bow's
fault, Jude," said my mother. "You should have sold it."
I hadn't thought of that until
AFTER I threw it in the river. But, I had saved enough money for a new
bow and new arrows at Rokeby the next day. And, so I left the next morning
for town. But, it was not a happy time. Thornhill was razed to the ground
the evening before My father's brother, wife and ten offspring along with
it. Everything was destroyed and burned for miles around. None survived.
No footprint, no soldiers seen, no arrows in those who tried to flee. Just
burned beyond recognition.
"Fire fell from the skies,"
said my grandfather. "It was a pestilence, a judgement from the almighty."
"There's another kind of death,"
said my father. "...Fire and smoke from hell itself."
They were talking about dragons.
But all the dragons had been killed off over 70 years ago. But, the fear
was back. What if...
The next day I went to town.
I purchased my bow and arrows as planned, and then found a fair on the
village green. I wandered until I saw the swordsman's pavilion, and paid
a coin to see the performance. He held the sword blade upright, then swung
it down, around and in a circle, faster and faster. Then it flew up high...but
he caught it as it came down.
He needed a man, brave and
steadfast, unafraid to meet death. No one moved, except to look at their
feet or to whisper to their wives. Then, his gaze lighted on me and I became
his 'brave' man. He had me lift the sword which, with its weight, was no
small feat. Then he took me to the center of the stage, had me tuck my
elbows against my belt, and told me to stand still...to not move a muscle.
I froze and heard the whirring of the blade, slow then fast. I felt a lock
of my hair as it fell to the floor, then another, and another...until,
he was finished.
When he was done, Tybalt praised
my bravery to the crowd and had them applaud me. I was proud, but not too
proud, more scared to death to move, I'd been.
I saw one more show while I
was there. A tiny little creature with the smallest feet I'd ever seen
on a human. Then, I headed home to Doran, practicing with my new bow. I
shot at a hare, but the wind was stronger than I imagined and I hit a hill.
The road seemed longer, and it was sunset when I began the final climb
My head down to watch for ruts,
I smelled smoke before I saw it. Disbelief and then fear shot through me.
I ran up the hill in terror to find Doran was no more. Burned bare just
as was Thornhill. Nothing but ash and glowing embers, and smoke, and the
Fire from the sky.
Sam Marsh (Colorado
Blue Spruce Children's Award)
Jude is no hero. That
is perfectly clear…or is it? Jude slowly begins to transform after
the last living dragon destroys his family and village. After anger,
guilt, and sorrow nearly destroy him, he begins to change. Meeting
the lovely but exotic Jeing-wei strengthens Jude, but will her presence
and her determination really help Jude slay the dragon or will the dragon
Prepared by: Samantha McManus
for South Carolina
Junior Book Award 2005
The year is 1356. Jude, a teenaged
peasant boy in England, is devastated when he returns to his small village
and finds that it has been burned and turned to rubble by a dragon. No
one had seen a dragon for many years. In fact, they were thought to no
longer exist but it seems that there was one dragon egg that has hatched.
Jude teams up with a beautiful young woman, Jing-Wei, who comes from a
far-off land called China. Together, they devise a plan to put a stop to
the dragon’s destruction.
The Hunting of the Last Dragon
is a gripping fantasy about finding courage within yourself. (Melissa
Bowman, Melissa.Bowman@pisd.edu, Armstrong Middle School, Lone Star
Book Award nominee, 2003-2004)