Dragons in a Bag (Dragons in a Bag #1)

by Zetta Elliott (Author)

Reading Level: 4th − 5th Grade

The dragon's out of the bag in this diverse, young urban fantasy from an award-winning author!

When Jaxon is sent to spend the day with a mean old lady his mother calls Ma, he finds out she's not his grandmother--but she is a witch! She needs his help delivering baby dragons to a magical world where they'll be safe. There are two rules when it comes to the dragons: don't let them out of the bag, and don't feed them anything sweet. Before he knows it, Jax and his friends Vikram and Kavita have broken both rules! Will Jax get the baby dragons delivered safe and sound? Or will they be lost in Brooklyn forever?

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Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review
What a breath of fresh air a chapter-book fantasy with an urban setting, an array of brown-skinned magic wielders, and a lovable black protagonist readers will root for and sympathize with... Good, solid fantasy fun.

School Library Journal

Starred Review

Gr 2-5--When nine-year-old Jaxon's mother goes to court to fight an eviction order, she leaves him with a grouchy older woman she calls Ma. As it turns out, Ma is a witch, and she's been sent a trio of dragon hatchlings that she must return to their home. After a rocky start together and an incident with a glitchy transporter, Ma ends up stuck in the Mesozoic era while Jaxon is returned to Brooklyn to find help and protect the baby dragons. With the aid of Ma's network of friends, Jax manages to reunite with Ma in the realm of magic. A few loose ends leave this story open for future installments. Historically, most chapter books featuring magical tales of witches and dragons center the experiences of white protagonists and characters; Elliott offers something much needed in the genre: a black protagonist in an urban setting. Elliott skillfully introduces themes about creating positive change, examines issues of othering and the fear of differences, and touches upon the complexities of family, gentrification, and segregation. VERDICT A promising start to a new series, this fantasy should find a home in all libraries.--Lauren Strohecker, McKinley Elementary School, Elkins Park, PA

Copyright 2018 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly

When nine-year-old Jaxon's mom leaves him to stay with "Ma," the woman who raised her (presumably, his grandmother), he is startled by a mysterious, moving package on her table. Soon, Jax learns that Ma is a witch to whom his mother was once apprenticed, and that the package contains three baby dragons that must be delivered to a parallel realm, since Brooklyn lacks sufficient magic to sustain the beasts. Jax joins her, deciding he'd like to be her apprentice, but the transporter, an old guardhouse in Prospect Park, mistakenly deposits them in the Mesozoic era instead. When a dinosaur threatens them, Ma pushes Jax and her dragon-filled purse into the transformer, and Jax arrives back in Brooklyn with two essential missions: save Ma, and safeguard the dragons. Filled with entertaining characters, including the grandfather Jax has never met and a man who may just be invisible, the story entertains from start to finish. Readers will mirror Jax's surprise at and joy in discovering the world Elliott (Bird) brings to life. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 8-12. Author's agent: Jennifer Laughran, Andrea Brown Literary. (Oct.)

Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

Zetta Elliott
Zetta Elliott was born in Canada and moved to the United States in 1994. Her poetry has been published in several anthologies, and her plays have been staged in New York and Chicago. Her essays have appeared in the Huffington Post, School Library Journal, and Publishers Weekly. She is the author of over twenty-five books for young readers, including the award-winning picture books Bird and Melena's Jubilee. She is also a contibutor to We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices, published by Crown Books for Young Readers. Elliott is an advocate for greater diversity and equity in publishing. A longtime resident of Brooklyn, she currently lives in Illinois. Learn more at zettaelliott.com.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Random House Books for Young Readers
Publication date
October 20, 2018
Dragons in a Bag
BISAC categories
JUV037000 - Juvenile Fiction | Fantasy & Magic
JUV011010 - Juvenile Fiction | People & Places | United States - African-American
JUV002270 - Juvenile Fiction | Animals | Dragons, Unicorns & Mythical
Library of Congress categories
African Americans
Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)

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