Like many kids, George feels overlooked and ignored in the big, busy world of adults. Coincidentally, so do the dragons he begins to see in Helen Ward's whimsical new book <B>The Dragon Machine</B>. Perched on telephone wires or hidden away in trashcans, the critters don't seem to cause any trouble until George begins feeding them. Then they follow him everywhere, breaking things and making mischief. George soon realizes he has a problem on his hands. For, as everyone knows, once you start feeding dragons you simply can't get rid of them!

To solve this dilemma, George heads for the library, where he finds a map of a great wilderness, a perfect place for dragons. But how to get them there? George draws up plans for an elaborate machine. It looks like a giant mechanical dragon, festooned with lots of extras: spare scissors, wrenches, even an anchor. When George's dragons spy this enormous, mechanical flying contraption, they fly after it until at last they reach the great wilderness.

George is so exhausted after this extraordinary journey that he falls fast asleep. But when he wakes up the next morning he is surprised to find himself entirely alone. Every last dragon has disappeared in the vast wilderness. What will George do now? Back home, the emptiness in his own room spurs his parents to undertake a search for their missing son. After much hunting, they find him at last. Overjoyed to see their son, they promise never to overlook him again. They give him a dog as a homecoming present. A nice, very ordinary-looking dog. Or is it?

Originally published in Great Britain, The Dragon Machine was created by the English team of Helen Ward and Wayne Anderson, who also collaborated on The Tin Forest. This warm-hearted, exquisitely illustrated tale is bound to be a favorite with dragon hunters, big and little.

<I>Deborah Hopkinson's most recent book for young readers is</I> Girl Wonder: A Baseball Story in Nine Innings.

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