Jaleigh Johnson has created a uniquely imaginative world in her first book for middle-grade readers, The Mark of the Dragonfly. Thirteen-year-old Piper is a feisty, orphaned girl who survives by discovering and restoring flying objects from meteor showers. What she doesn’t count on is finding Anna, who is being chased by a member of King Aron’s army and bears the mysterious mark of the dragonfly. In the hopes of earning a reward for her safe return, Piper decides to help Anna get home, but the two girls soon form a close, sister-like bond—and find themselves on an action-packed journey through a magical landscape.

This page-turning novel takes the reader on a heart-thumping adventure filled with rich, imaginative characters. The fantastical world of Solace is filled with surprising creatures like the sarnun, who communicate telepathically, and chamelins, who shape-shift from human to lizard-bird-human hybrids. Piper is a strong, gutsy heroine with plenty of her own secrets, and although she’s been dealt a rough hand, she is willing to sacrifice whatever security she may have to ensure Anna’s safety. The story lends an air of mystery as readers try to determine the reason why Anna is being hunted, the significance of the dragonfly marking, and how Piper will be able to save her.

Middle-school readers will delight in the fast-paced, thrilling action and fictional otherworld, while rooting for two strong female characters who do not disappoint.

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