#483 – Diego’s Dragon #1: Spirits of the Sun by Kevin Gerard

duegos dragon no1.

Diego’s Dragon #1: Spirits of the Sun

by Kevin Gerard

Crying Cougar Press  2011

978-0-615-53634-7

Age 8 to 13     174 pages

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Back Cover (edited)

“An eleven-year-old Latino boy wins a district wide writing contest for sixth graders. When an author visits his school to award a 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. . . . After hearing the name Magnifico spoken aloud by family and friends, Diego awards it to his new dragon. . . . 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.”

Opening

“Diego knew the dragon was alive the moment he touched it. Even though only a statue, and only eighteen inches tall, Diego felt a pulsing heartbeat when he accepted it from the author.”

About the Story

Young Diego wins a district-wide writing contest. His prize is a black dragon statue. With wings spanned and sharp teething baring, the dragon looked magnificent standing tall on the library table. Diego felt a strong heat coming off the dragon but when he touched it, the base felt cool. Holding it near him, he could feel a heartbeat, as if the stone dragon were alive. Diego thought it a silly thought until the dragon bit, kicked, and punched him.

Magnifico, named after several people called him that, had a tendency to leave his spot on Diego’s desk, showing up elsewhere, usually by surprise. He also infiltrated Diego’s dreams and that of his school friend Racquel. When invited to dinner, the author gave a detailed story as to how he found the dragon years ago. Diego’s parents were beginning to suspect something more was going on, but it all seemed absurd. Until the day Magnifico ran off three bad guys, saving Diego’s drunk brother. It made the newspaper.

Diego’s real role, as he was the chosen one, was to release his people from the limbo they were in and had been for hundreds of years. Diego would be a hero to his people much like Zapata, Poncho Villa, and Benito Juarez were, but, unbeknownst to Diego, it would cost him dearly.

diego dragon

Review

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.

Learn more about Diego’s Dragon #1: Spirits of the Sun click HERE.

To buy the book, go to Amazon – SMASHWORDS – MYSTERIOUS GALAXY.

diego dragon no 1 spanish.

Also available in SPANISH HERE.

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Learn more about the author, Kevin Gerard:    website     blog     profile       goodreads     youtube

 

Learn more about the publisher, Crying Cougar Press:     website

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DIEGO’S DRAGON #1: SPIRITS OF THE SUN. Text copyright © 2011 by Kevin Gerard. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Crying Cougar Press, San Diego, CA.

                               Desert Springs Middle School Play based on Spirits of the Son

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diego dragon no 2 .

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#2:  Dragons of the Dark Rift

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diego dragon no3.ffff

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#3:  Battle at Tenochtitlan

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Kevin Gerard began writing seriously in 2004 after leaving a CSU academic research position. He teaches statistics at Cal State San Marcos and spends the rest of his time writing middle grade and adult fiction. He lives in San Diego, California, with his wife and four crazy cats. When not writing or teaching, he enjoys walking the grounds at the San Diego Zoo, hitting the waves at Cardiff State Beach, and hanging with his brother, nieces and nephews at the local Pizza Port.

 

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8 thoughts on “#483 – Diego’s Dragon #1: Spirits of the Sun by Kevin Gerard

  1. Thanks for all the comments, and to you, KidLitReviews, for responding. I love writing fantasy for young readers. The things that pop into my mind – like yesterday – a HUGE plot element for Diego’s fourth book appeared out of nowhere. It’s actually a wonderful alliance that I introduced in an indirect way in Book Two: Dragons of the Dark Rift. It will help the Sol Dragones in their continuing battle with Satadon.

    Oh, I do love this story. Diego and Magnifico are such great characters, as are the rest of the players in the Diego’s Dragon series. Thanks, KLR, for screaming so loudly – Kevin Gerard

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  2. This book sounds absolutely magnificent, and dragons are a noble character to have in an adventures. You may not be a fan of fantasy, but you must admit you have a spot in your heart for dragons. Great review, Sue.

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    • It is isn’t it? I hate to say it, but not many excellently written books cross my desk. When they do I want to scream, “read this!” Erik, you would love this book. Book 2 and 3 are out (I had no idea this initially released in 2011 or I would have refused to review it. Lucky me.) I wish the author would have you review it. I’d love to know what you think.

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    • I am not a fantasy lover and turn away many fantasy books. I figured it was time to give in and was happy I had. This really is a well-written novel. The story is great and the protagonist is a Latino boy — quite uncommon. Not much to complain about. Yeah, for that. I do not know if you like dragons, Rhythm, but if you do your mommy needs to read this book to you.

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