The Dragons of Ordinary Farm
Tad Williams and Deborah Beale
Harper, Jun 2009, $16.99
Their mom informs Tyler and Lucinda that they will send four weeks with the Pierho family while she goes on a singles retreat. Lucinda begs her to send them almost anywhere else though her choice would be dad; Tyler has given up the fight. A letter arrives from Great Uncle Gideon Goldring whom mom thought died a century ago inviting his great niece and nephew to spend time on his farm in Standard Valley, California. Mom informs the “King and Queen of Romania” that they will visit their great uncle for six weeks. Lucinda moans they went from fish smell to cow excrement; Tyler is silent.
The farm is not what the kids expected nor is Uncle Gideon who seems distracted and panicked though they have no earthly idea why. The workers (Mr. Walkwell, Colin and his mom) are not welcoming. Tyler and Lucinda soon meet the not ordinary farm animals starting with a “dragon” cow in the barn and a griffin. Both wonder how no one has discovered the rather nosy unicorn herd. They meet other strange creatures. As an excited Tyler investigates what is going on and why Gideon seems on the verge of a nervous breakdown, he persuades his moping sister to join him on a trek through time and reality; not quite fully realizing yet why they were brought to the farm.
The first part of this exciting fantasy escorts the young readers around the farm through mostly Tyler’s exploration; Lucinda is still in an unlikable snit. This enables the older elementary school audience to meet the not so ordinary farm animals and the workers. That in turn sets the stage for Lucinda (having moved from sulk to awe) and Tyler’s most excellent adventures that take up most of the fast-paced story line ending with a great climax. Young fans will want to join the outsiders on their incredible summer vacation (imagine how they will explain what they did when they return to school).