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In Dragonspeak, Andrew Robinson creates a world where, instead of learning to ride a bike, you learn to walk and even sail on water. Young Drew crawls through a tunnel one day to get away from a couple of bullies to find himself in a world that seems strangely perfect, at first. All the rules that he had to follow at home do not apply in this other world and there are no fighting parents to deal with either. In the place of Drew’s parents are Miss Jane, who brings the young boy both trouble and happiness in this new world, and a servant made from clay.
Just as Drew is starting to get used to this new world, Miss Jane asks him to travel to another world to speak to dragons. On his way, Drew encounters talking mice, a quirky captain, talking elevator vines, people who live vertically on the side of a mountain, and many more intriguing characters. He soon realizes through his travels that everyone seems to be connected in some way and that the easy going world that Miss Jane has presented him when he first arrived is not all it seems to be.
Readers who have read Robinson’s My Island, My Memories will recognize many of the references he makes to his childhood. There are so many similarities that readers may see the main character as a version of the author himself when he was a child going on a fictitious journey.
The only issue with the parallel between the two books is that some sections seem almost word for word the same, but those who have not read both will find Dragonspeak an adventure to savor. Although, the chapter that describes the close knit community of cottages that Robinson grew up around in My Island, My Memories would allow readers to have a clearer understanding of the portions in Dragonspeak that draw on those memories.
Throughout Dragonspeak, Robinson also includes foreshadowing in many scenes, whether a play on names or a slip up in a character’s speech, to help readers from succumbing to the innocent view Drew has of the new world he finds himself in. Eventually, Drew learns to question the things that seem to be too good. Remembering his parents back home helps him through the troubles he faces.
He starts to miss them despite the overwhelming feeling Drew has held onto that his parents are not worried over his disappearance because they are too busy fighting. This ache, along with new discoveries from his otherworldly friends, is what brings him to make a decision that could change his life, both in this strange world and the one back home.
Overall, Robinson’s Dragonspeak is an enjoyable read with glorious discoveries of another world created by children going through hardship. Every child may feel at some point in their lives that they need to get away from their world and thus create another. But, like Drew, they soon must choose between what they have created and what they have left behind.