Nyikos has a powerful gift for storytelling that comes to life in Dragon Wishes. She magically weaves together two stories to create one unified reading experience: the present-time story of a girl and her little sister coming to terms with their parents' tragic death, and an ancient story handed down through the generations about a girl who calls on the power of dragons to save her village. The transition between the two stories is seamless.
I had such a hard time putting the book down that I read it in just four sittings - which when you factor in all the other things I'm doing (writing, parenting, running, not sleeping thanks to sick kiddos, etc.) speaks volumes about this book. I cut back on my blog reading and skipped out on some television time so I could climb into bed and see how the story unfolds.
This is, by far, one of the most moving and well-written children's novels I have read since my youth. It is one that I would read aloud to a class of students and use as the backbone for a thematic unit on Chinese art and culture (3rd - 5th grade, as a read aloud, 4th - 8th graders would enjoy it independently). It is one I will read with my daughter when she's older (she's not even two yet, but it will keep!). I will also recommend it to the school counselors I know for them to suggest to their students who have been relocated or have lost close relatives.
The dialogue is natural and relaxed, which is hard to write, but Nyikos does skillfully. The characters are believable and likable, developed over time as you experience them through their actions. Overall the tone is serious, but healthy doses of humor keep the story moving.
Congratulations on this amazing first novel, Stacy! I wish you great success and look forward to reading your future books and celebrating them with you.
As you search for the perfect books for the people on your holiday gift list, take a minute or two to look beyond the best sellers lists! There are treasures awaiting you between the covers of independently published books, too.
Next on my to-review list: A pair of books by Lizzy Rockwell, The Busy Body Book and Good Enough to Eat: A Kid's Guide to Food and Nutrition.