Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Beyond the Dragon Portal

Beyond the Dragon Portal

Melissa Glenn Haber
For ages 8 to 12
Penguin, 2005   ISBN: 978-0525475378

Sadie’s little sister Phoebe has always told her family stories about “Dragonland,” a place Phoebe apparently goes to at night. Sadie is sure that the stories are all made up, dreams perhaps, until the day when she wakes up to find that Phoebe is gone. She also discovers, on that dreadful morning, that their neighbor, Mrs. Fitz Edna, is not a human at all but a dragon. It would appear that Mrs. Fitz Edna has been guarding and helping to take care of Phoebe from the very beginning. Sadie learns that her little sister is actually a dragon and that she has been kidnapped by the Barbazion, the enemies of the dragons. Apparently the dragons believe that they are safe from the Barbazion as long as they have Phoebe on their side.

In no time at all Sadie finds herself flying to Dragonland on Mrs. Fitz Edna’s back. They go up into space and through the Dragon Portal. The planet they arrive at is mostly a grim and desolate place and now it is one which has been horribly mutilated by the war which is raging between the dragons and the terrifying Barbazion.

As Sadie looks for her precious sister in this alien world, she realizes that the line between good and evil is very fuzzy. At first she is on the side of the dragons. Then she is on the side of a fierce winged people who call themselves the Lanawani. What she discovers is that both sides are right, and wrong, and that her only hope is not take sides at all. Her only hope is to find Phoebe and to get home.

Children are often led to believe that there are “good guys” and “bad guys” in a war. The reality is rarely as simplistic as this for who the “good guys” are all depends on your point of view. What they will learn through Sadie’s experience is that in the big scheme of things ‘sides’ do not matter. What matters is that lives are lost, homes are destroyed, and beautiful places are ruined. Sadie learns that the only solution to the war between the creatures in Dragonland is for them to make peace.