on 15 May 2012
So what did you think of the story?
I didn't like the box because I hate trolls. I hate stinky toenails. I hate swords but I'd love to use one when I'm a grown up. Swords are dangerous for children. I was happy James rescued Mack. I hate witches because when they die they're still stinky. I like dragons because I love riding on them when we're flying and I love heights.
Anyway, did you like the story?
(with a nod of the head) Yeah.
This was my son's first attempt at a review :)
The Dragon Box is a beautiful story. I think my boy is a tad too young for it, but he did enjoy it (he asked to continue the story every night), so I expect children that are 8-12 as advised would really appreciate it (and so would anyone over that age who is still a kid at heart). Katie Stewart writes really well, making, in my case, reading this story both enjoyable for mum and child. There is action and suspense, and it appeals to the child's imagination with knights and witches and dragons (see above - I would have loved to know what was going on in my son's head as I was telling him the story!). The story will keep the child interested, while remaining straightforward and easy to follow/read.
We are definitely looking forward to more stories for youngsters, especially if they,too, have dragons in :) I am giving it a five-star based on my son's experience, who, I must say, is not always that keen on nighttime reading, but obviously was delighted by this one.
on 13 August 2011
Goodbye fairy-tale land, hello computer-game land! This contemporary quest story affords an ideal platform for an alternative reality in which a youngster can face up to his fears, challenge himself and seek his own solutions. James chooses to play the game, believing that he can quit at any time - but can he? The challenges he faces and the decisions he makes in the game have a knock-on effect in his real life.
This fantasy quest is geared towards, but by no means exclusive to, a male readership circa 8 - 12 years. It bears all the hallmarks of a quest novel - puzzles to solve, dangers to be faced, risks to be taken, baddies to be overcome, original characters and fast-paced storytelling. Uniquely, this book also comes with its' own brand of humour - and that's where the target readership comes in!
I'm not male, I'm way out of the target age-range and I'm not very familiar with the genre - so it's a credit to Katie Stewart's story-telling ability that I galloped through this engaging tale in one, albeit lengthy, session. Children will enjoy it but I recommend it to parents as well. It's not only entertaining but also thought-provoking - an ideal story to share.
on 31 August 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.
on 29 August 2012
The Dragon Box is a cracking good read! It tells the story of James who, thanks to his elderly neighbour an inventor called Mack, finds himself at the centre of his own computer game, something that a lot of kids have probably wished for.
The tale , well written and full of fast-paced excitement, has everything to keep the reader interested; a great bunch of friends, a noble quest, a pair of bullies, and the meanest, nastiest evil Queen you can imagine. (She actually reminded me of my grammar school headmistress!) In the end it is the intelligence and character of James who wins through, which is as it should be.
This is without doubt the best children's book I've read all year. All in all it's an excellent 5 star read and highly recommended.
on 9 September 2012
A fun read for adults and children alike. A clever little fantasy about a bullied young boy who accepts a gift from his friendly if eccentric neighbour- a computer game with no screen. Witches, dragons and kindly sorcerers fill the adventure he finds within, in a world where the inhabitants are familiar and the challenges frighteningly real.
A well written book with an end which is quite touching.
on 13 October 2012
I read this wonderful book with (well... to!) my nine-year-old son as a bed-time story; and he loved it - so much so that he "grumped" at the end of every chapter because he'd have to wait a whole other day to resolve the cliff-hanger! Highly recommended!
on 8 September 2014
Great story for the younger reader.
This is a children’s story about James, a boy who takes part in what seems to be an adventure game, conceived by and featuring his elderly neighbour Mack. In the game, he meets characters who very closely resemble people he knows in real life. Mack assures him that he is safe and he can quit and exit the game at any time. He carries a device with a red button in his pocket for this purpose. The story takes the form of the traditional ‘quest’ tale with James being sent to search for three seemingly impossible things to bring back to the witch, Khalana. Although Mack could tell him the answers, he encourages James to work things out for himself.
This is a lovely, fluent story which will appeal to the sense of adventure in all children. There is often a real sense of danger and we are relieved each time James succeeds. I’m sure I’m not the only reader who was enchanted with the little dragon on the cover, which James called Ben. A book for younger readers will often fail to keep an adult’s attention but this was a splendid story, beautifully told. What more do you need to encourage young readers to become old readers?