John Ronald loved dragons. He liked to imagine dragons when he was alone, and with his friends, and especially when life got hard or sad. After his mother died and he had to live with a cold-hearted aunt, he looked for dragons. He searched for them at his boarding school. And when he fought in a Great War, he felt as if terrible, destructive dragons were everywhere. But he never actually found one, until one day, when he was a grown man but still very much a boy at heart, when he decided to create one of his own.
Twins Jamie and Ned do everything together, from watching their favorite show, Star Trek, to riding their bikes, to beachcombing after a storm. But Ned is sick with cystic fibrosis, and he may someday leave Jamie behind.
Every night when his parents turn off the light, strange creatures descend from the black space where the ceiling used to be . . . First comes one, then another, and then more and more. They stand all around him, staring, not saying a word. And then, worst of all, comes the dark, shapeless one that tells him, “I am what’s there before there is anything there . . .”
Crackling Brat, a fantastical child who has power over fire, wind, thunder, and lightning, laughingly outwits three ferocious obstacles-Snow Cat, Night Bear, and Hunger Wolf-to save his father from the ravages of Time. The language is fresh, primarily due to the inventive use of metaphor. “Night Bear’s fur was as dark as midnight. His eyes were star-colored and his teeth were sharper than the points of the new moon.”
When he asks for a typical pet–a dog, a cat–his parents say no, so Sam wonders, “How about a Snagglegrollop?” A what?! The next day Sam comes home from school with a strange-looking creature indeed! The Snagglegrollop eats an awful lot of food–and entire tubes of toothpaste, too. But it tells silly jokes and takes the family for wonderful weekend romps. They become very fond of it. Some nights, though, the Snagglegrollop just sits on the roof, staring at the stars. “It seems quite sad,” Sam thinks. Could it be that all it needs is the companionship of his classmate Emily’s Quibblesnuff?