HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Ernest Drake’s Dragonology: The Complete Book of Dragons
Author: Dugald A. Steer
Illustrators: Wayne Anderson, Helen Ward
Publisher: Candlewick Press, 2003
Related website: www.candlewick.com (publisher)
Language level: 1 (nothing objectionable)
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Rating: 4 stars (GOOD)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Steer, Dugald A. (aka Ernest Drake). Ernest Drake’s Dragonology: The Complete Book of Dragons (published in 2003 by Candlewick Press, 2067 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02140). Under various pseudonyms, Dugald A. Steer has produced ("edited") many interesting volumes for children on different subjects, including Wizardology by Master Merlin, Mythology by Hestia Evans, Egyptology by Emily Sands, Piratology by William Lubber, Spyology by Spencer Blake, Explorer: A Daring Guide for Young Adventurers by Henry Hardcastle, and Monsterology also by Ernest Drake; Oceanology by Ferdinand Zoticus de Lesseps is due out. We have read his book on "knightology" Knight : A Noble Guide for Young Squires by Geoffrey De Lance.
Many of these also have guidebooks and handbooks to go along with them, but the Dragonology series seems to be the most popular, with Dragonology: Field Guide to Dragons; Tracking and Taming Dragons: A Deluxe Book and Model Set: Volume 1, European Dragon; Dragonology Tracking and Taming Dragons Volume 2: A Deluxe Book and Model Set: Frost Dragon; The Dragonology Handbook: A Practical Course in Dragons; and Dragonology Code-Writing Kit: From the Desk of Dr. Ernest Drake. In fact, two novels, The Dragon’s Eye and a sequel, The Dragon Diary with Ernest Drake as the main character are available.
Our son Jeremy loves all things dragon-related, and having done The Dragon’s Eye as a read aloud, he saw Dragonology in a bookstore and had to have it. It is hard to know how to categorize it. A note says, "This book purports to be the facsimile of an original, published on a print run of 100 copies in 1895, of which a copy was recently found in a bookshop near the Seven Dials in London. Unfortunately, the publisher has been unable to ascertain whether a real Dr. Ernest Drake ever lived in St. Leonard’s Forest or wrote a book called Dragonology and so, with regret, is unable to make any claim as to the truth of this and must present this volume merely as an interesting curiosity." Of course, the book is fiction, but it does present many true facts about what people have believed concerning dragons through the centuries. There are references to the magical abilities of dragons and also dragon evolution, with a nod to the theories of Charles Darwin, but otherwise if a child is really fascinated with dragons, he or she would probably enjoy this book.