Cole, Henry. Brambleheart: A Story about Finding Treasure and the Unexpected Magic of Friendship. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen, 2016. $16.99. 272p. ISBN 978-0-06224-546-5. Ages 8-11. P9Q8
Young readers looking for a place to find success will identify with chipmunk Twig’s frustration as he isn’t good at any of his studies—weaving, smelting, and carving. Without becoming a master of any specialty, he’ll become an Errand Runner. Only when he watches a dragon hatch from an egg does he begin to find his way as the creature he protects begins to use his fiery breath to weld a magnificent school project. Lushly illustrated by the author in black and white, pencil drawings help the reading move smoothly, and Twig’s friendship with a rabbit, Lily, shows the importance of her support in moving forward. Parts of the narrative are realistic, for example Twig’s feelings when he is ordered to leave a classroom after being tripped by another student, failing a project, and being accused of something he didn’t do. Yet the rapid shift of an enemy into a friend lacks any motivation other than moving the plot along. Nevertheless, the charming fantasy will be an enjoyable read because of Twig’s struggles and the addition of a dragon to his life. The author/illustrator has promised a sequel.
May 2016 review by Nel Ward.