Night Sky Dragons, by Mal Peet & Elspeth Graham, illustrated by Patrick Benson; Candlewick Press, $15.99, 64 pages, ages 5-8.
Husband and wife team Mal Peet and Elspeth Graham (Mysterious Traveler; Cloud Tea Monkeys) share another story set in a far away place in another time. Yazul lives in a han, a walled roadside inn along the Silk Road, and his father is its lord. The young boy spends most of his days making kites with his grandfather, much to his father’s disapproval. But when bandits encircle the han, cutting off the inhabitants from fresh food and water, Yazul enlists his grandfather and his kite-making prowess to save the day. Tucked inside the special dragon kites is a secret weapon: Gunpowder, which, loaded into the kites’ bamboo stems, creates homemade firecrackers. Peet and Graham weave a spirited tale of adventure and cunning. Award-winning illustrator (Owl Babies; The Sea-Thing Child) Patrick Benson’s pen and watercolor illustrations are full of detail, and set the right tone for a thrilling story set in a faraway place. Expect this book to be in heavy reading rotation at bedtime.