1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
The Dragon Box, 31 Aug 2011
The Dragon Box is a contemporary fantasy story for children by Western Australian author Katie Stewart. I have also read her adult fantasy novel Treespeaker, and both are equally good. In The Dragon Box, our young hero James receives a special gift from the eccentric Mack, a gift that propels him into a fantasy world where his companions bear striking resemblance to people in James' own life. The world inside the dragon box is a game featuring a routine fantasy landscape, which is being threatened by the evil Khalanna. Inside the game, the elderly Mack has been transformed into the wizard Mackenzor, who advises James on his quest for the Crystal of Monmekk. The crystal is needed to help restore flight to Draknor the dragon, who has lost his wings to the evil Khalanna in a previous battle. As I mentioned before, each character represents a friend or family member in James' own life (some goblins stand for the real-world neighbourhood bullies), and in some sense the situation in the game mirrors that in the outside world. This becomes clearer the further we read.
The Dragon Box is subtly educational in a number of ways. Firstly, Mack(enzor) encourages James to think and act for himself, something he is not keen on doing initially. James' sidekicks are barely animate computerised routines, and as such offer him little direct support in his quest. The novel also teaches children that violence is never the answer to problems, and that quick thinking and puzzle solving are far more valuable life-skills. And while there is some use of magic (such as a water spell called fal-ush-da-dunnee - you'd have to be Australian to get that joke), magic never entirely solves life's problems. In short, The Dragon Box manages to avoid becoming a wish-fulfillment or power fantasy, something for which the author should be credited. I look forward to this author's subsequent work with keen interest.