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Diego's Dragon, Book One: Spirits of the Sun…
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Diego's Dragon, Book One: Spirits of the Sun

by Kevin Gerard

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When I receive a book, I normally look through it and maybe read a page or two from a random spot. In the case of Spirits of the Sun, I read part of Chapter 14 in this thirty-three chapter book. Diego’s father has taken the dragon—as a statue—to work with him to show off. Everyone liked the statue which was now in Diego’s backpack. Magnifico was kicking, squirming, punching, and finally biting Diego through the backpack’s material. Not liking confinement, Magnifico wanted out, or at least the zipper opened. I was hooked. In only rare occasions do I actually completely read a book that only arrived the day before. Spirits of the Sun is the first in over twelve months and it was worth every word.

First, there is the Mexican hero as eleven-year-old Diego, a lead not often seen in middle grade novels. All but the author, Nathan Sullivan, are Latino and some sentences are written in Spanish, and understandable in context. Mexican history and three of its heroes from a time long past play a heavy role. While it is clear Diego is the protagonist, Racquel is a hero in her own right and I believe will be seen in a strong role in a future edition of the series. Diego and Racquel are each other’s first love, or rather, first crush. There is a second female character girls will find relatable. Both she and Racquel will be important characters in future volumes (I believe).

Second, the writing is as magnificent as the dragon. I saw one typo but nothing else. The sentences would make any English professor proud. Why Spirits of the Sun was not picked up by a publisher is beyond me. The story begins right in the middle of the action, the middle expands and retracts enough to keep you on your toes, and the ending is excellent, though it was not what I wanted to happen, nor what I expected. It is a series, so I may yet get my way.

There are no illustrations, which would be a treat, but it is easy to visualize the story. When the dragon takes flight, you can see the wings expanded and then one side dip to allow Diego entrance to his back. When Diego and Racquel hide to talk, you can feel the closeness. Diego tackles a girl in the library when Magnifico, who is only visible to Diego, sets out to bite a girl and other students. The shock upon the librarian’s face is palatable. Our hero is turning into a delinquent at school. I wanted to laugh while still feeling sorry for the visible changes this dragon is causing in the young boy’s life.

Kids who like dragon stories will love this adventure series. Those who liked Harry Potter, kids and adults, will like this series. I truly believe the Diego’s Dragon series will have readers anticipating new releases and then devouring the books immediately upon release. Spirits of the Sun is a great book for boys, and girls—and adults. Without gushing too much, I believe Spirits of the Sun is one of the best books I have read. If the series holds up, I will be its number one fan, though many others will claim that title. Kids, get this book.

originally reviewed at Kid Lit Reviews http://kid-lit-reviews.com/2014/01/14/479-diegos-dragon-1-spirits-of-the-sun-by-... ( )
  smmorris | Mar 6, 2014 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0615536344, Paperback)

An eleven-year-old Latino boy wins a district-wide writing contest for sixth graders. When an author visits his school to award his prize, Diego Ramirez has no idea how much his life is about to change. Nathan Sullivan hands Diego his statue, a handsome, glistening black dragon. He shakes his hand and leaves him to his friends. The students crowd around Diego, asking for permission to hold it. After hearing the name Magnifico spoken aloud by family and friends, Diego awards it to his new dragon. If he only knew how fitting the name was, he might have known what lay ahead. Magnifico is the leader of the Sol Dragones, dragons that live within the magical fires of the sun. Nathan Sullivan is the earth's connection to the mysterious creatures. It is his task to find Magnifico's guide. As Magnifico comes to life he becomes quite mischievous, playing tricks on Diego to embarrass him. As he discovers his bloodline, however, Diego assumes greater control over his dragon and his destiny. In the climactic journey, he frees his people and suffers a terrible loss by guiding Magnifico to their goal.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:59:12 -0400)

"An eleven-year-old Latino boy wins a district-wide writing contest for sixth graders. When an author visits his school to award his prize, Diego Ramirez has no idea how much his life is about to change."--Back cover

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