The Last Dragon, story by Jane Yolen, art by Rebecca Guay. Dark Horse Books, 2011.

Now I can finally say I've read a teen graphic novel. From the time first I read Jane Yolen's "The Girl Who Cried Flowers and Other Tales," I've been enthralled by the lyrical, descriptive language in her stories, and also by the moralizing tone. The Last Dragon takes it to the next step with the illustrations.

In the country of Ingleland, there is a collection of offshore islands wherein live folk who remember tales from when dragons were a-plenty. However, dragons have been extinct for the last several hundred years. This year, in a storm, a very old tree is toppled, and the last dragon's egg nestled in its roots hatches. The baby dragon grows quickly and begins eating small animals, large animals, and finally humans. The Herbalist  is a victim, and his daughter Tansy struggles to remember what he has taught her about Dragon's Bane in order to capture or kill the dragon.

The illustrations are characteristically dark and expressive, and definitely carry the story along, becoming fierce and red when the dragon strikes, and warm and gentle during conversations. There is some plot tension, a romance, and a fitting conclusion.


Lord Byron's Novel - The Evening Land, by John Crowley. William Morrow, 2005.

 While working on a project about strong women, "Smith", Thea, and Alex investigate a single page purported to belong to a lost novel of the poet Lord Byron. This part is told through e-mails among the three, and later with "Smith's" father Lee, a Byron expert. Following a hunch, the page is linked to a collection of pages filled with numbers which are deciphered during the course of the book and presented to the reader as Byron's lost novel. Ada's real-life friendship with Babbage, inventor of an early computer, lends credibility to the enciphering scheme.

I'm not sure what to say about this novel. It was certainly written in a novel way, with three distinct voices providing Byron's semi-autobiographical novel, his daughter Ada's contextual background notes, and hints of a parallel family drama involving the four modern researchers. The author himself calls it a "piece of impertinence."

It took much longer to read this than I anticipated. I think it was because of the widely divergent styles of writing. Crowley used a suitably archaic English style and vocabulary - including alternate orthography - for Byron's novel, and an almost flippant style for the e-mail conversations. Older writing included much description, commentary, and complex sentences with little dialogue and action. The unfamiliar vocabulary provided speed bumps mandating slower reading. We've gotten away from this style, and it takes effort to stick with the convoluted sentences, but for those who do, this is a remarkably literary read.