Nancy Keane's Booktalks -- Quick and Simple

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Jordan, Sherryl.
New York : HarperCollins, 2002.
ISBN 0060289031

(3 booktalks)

Booktalk #1

"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 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 to home.

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 stink...

Fire from the sky.

Sam Marsh  (Colorado Blue Spruce Children's Award)

Booktalk #2

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 slay Jude?

Prepared by: Samantha McManus for South Carolina Junior Book Award 2005

Booktalk #3

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,, Armstrong Middle School,  Lone Star Book Award nominee, 2003-2004)

SUBJECTS:     Dragons -- Fiction.
                        Chinese -- England -- Fiction.
                        Footbinding -- Fiction.
                        Middle Ages -- Fiction.
                        Monks -- Fiction.
                        Great Britain -- History -- Edward III, 1327-1377 --  Fiction.
                        Historical fiction.


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