Darek is envious when his older brother Clep returns from a quest wearing dragon claws for a necklace. His brother has killed a Great Blue, the largest and most feared of all dragons. The next day the village will hold a great celebration, and Clep will be the guest of honor. Unable to sleep that night, Darek sneaks outside. He hears something whimpering and realizes that the slain dragon has left behind a newborn dragonling that nobody noticed.
Calling on all his courage, Darek decides to return the dragonling to its home - a terrifying valley filled with dozens of deadly beasts.
Jackie French Koller is an award-winning author of more than 20 books for young readers. With this story, she creates a wondrous fantasy world where magical creatures fill the skies. Narrator Jeff Woodman expertly voices the courageous, yet frightened, Darek.
Excerpt from: Chapter 3
Darek struggled to close the barn door, pushing the dragonling back in.
"You've got to wait here," he said. "And don't make a sound."
"Rrronk," said the dragon.
"You don't understand," said Darek.
"They'll kill you if they find you." He gave a final push, then pulled the door tight and lowered the latch. He could hear the orphan's muffled whimperes on the other side. He had to hurry or someone else might wake and hear. Darek crept up to his room, dressed quickly, then tiptoed down to the back room where the weapons were kept. He slung his bow over his shoulder and strapped his quiver of arrows in place. On his way through the kitchen he filled a sack with supplies. It would be a journey of many days.
Suddenly he stopped and wondered. What do dragonlings eat? Perhaps such a young one would still need milk. He would have to bring a female yuke. Dorlass, whose calf had been born dead, had milk to spare, but she would not nurse a dragonling. Darek packed a waterskin so he could feed the creature by hand.
Darek paused in the kitchen doorway and looked back. His stomach twisted into a knot. What was he doing, anyway? What would his father say? Risking his life to save a dragon? An enemy of his people? A dragon that he might even have to face one day on his own dragonquest? He could still turn back. It was not too late. Perhaps he should just let the creature be found and killed. After all, what more did a dragon deserve?
Darek walked slowly out to the barn. The soft, hiccuping sound still came from inside. He opened the door and the dragonling rushed out and rubbed happily against him.
"Thrrummm, thrrummmm, thrrummmm," it said.
Copyright © 1990 by Jackie Lynn Koller
Excerpted from "The Dragonling" by Jackie French Koller. Copyright © 1995 by Jackie French Koller. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.