The Fire Within (The Last Dragon Chronicles) #1

by Chris D'Lacey

Paper Book, 2005



Local notes

Fic D'La





New York : Orchard Books, 2005.


When college student David Rain rents a room in an unusual boardinghouse full of clay dragons, he has no idea that they, along with some lively squirrels, will help jumpstart his writing career.



Original publication date


Physical description

340 p.; 22 cm

User reviews

LibraryThing member mandochild
It’s now been a while since I read this book so I’ve forgotten so many details. But I particularly wanted my first blog entry [this was originally posted on my newly created blog] to be about The fire within because I was so delightfully surprised by it.

My bookshelf is crammed with books
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waiting to be read - sometimes I wonder how I ever ended up with so many. And the list of books I either want to borrow or buy is even longer. Perhaps I should give up work and devote more time to simply reading.

Anyway, I have arranged my “to be read” shelves in order - basically along the lines of “newest acquisition to the back” but also with an eye to providing balance and contrast. I also cheat sometimes and bring absolute must reads straight to the front.

As a result, some of the books on my shelf have been there for years, and I am determined to get through them all. I can usually remember exactly where, when and why I picked them up. Not so this one. When I finally reached the turn of The fire within I couldn’t for the life of me remember how I’d ended up with it. I groaned inwardly at the prospect of reading it because it showed a dragon on the cover, and, with exceptions, I am bored by much of fantasy.

But, having reached it, I decided I might as well at least have a look. And was immediately captivated. I can’t even quite decide the intended audience of the book. It is written as though for a younger audience - say a 10 year old - but the protagonist is 20 and his 10/11 year old friend is portrayed as very immature (if nice).

Far more important to me is that it isn’t fantasy at all. Not in the sense of a fantasy universe populated by princesses and dragons. Instead, it dwells on that delightful knife-edge between reality and “what if...” At no point does it become obvious whether or not the dragons are real, or whether they are simply a creative visualisation. The dragons could simply be a kind of imaginary “spirit guide” - a means of accessing the subconscious. Or, there could be more to the universe than we will ever understand.

In other words - this book dances in the wonder of our own universe, reminding us that life is infinite while our understanding is not. In that sense (but that sense only) it reminds me of David Almond, and I am so glad that it somehow at some point found its way to my shelf.
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LibraryThing member woosang
Not what I expected but this children's book is stilla delight to read. It IS about dragons, but also about a squirrel. The dragons are everywhere in Mrs Pennykettle's house and when David moves in as a lodger, he is goven his own special dragon. He doesn't understand at first, the significance of
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the dragons and helps Lucy tracks down an injured Squirrel. For Lucy's birtday he writes the adventures of Conkers the Squirrel with the help of his new dragon.

The writing is perfect for its age group and not dumbed down so adults will be happy to read the text to their children at night. I look forwards to book two.
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LibraryThing member hpluver07
This book was okay. It didn't focus on dragons as much as i thought it would.
LibraryThing member Marcus43
Ehh it is a decent book, It is pretty dang funny, (considering i am a nerd)
LibraryThing member yosbooks
A fantasy story set in suburbia about dragon statues that are really alive. A good read. For kids who like more adventurous stories, the Rondo series by Emily Rodda may be better.
LibraryThing member SheilaDeeth
I decided to read a children’s book as a change of pace, and Chris D’Lacey’s The Fire Within was a perfect choice. A young college student, David, moves into the home of mother and daughter, Elizabeth and Lucy, expecting just a room to sleep in and food to eat. But he soon becomes part of the
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family, helping Lucy in her quest to save the squirrel next door which was left injured when its tree was chopped down. The novel has a beautiful mixture of nature and fantasy, with delightful relationships, childlike innocence, and a real concern for the environment blended with an intriguing touch of magic. For Elizabeth makes beautiful kiln-fired dragons, and no one should ever make a dragon cry.

The fire of the title lies in the heart, of dragon or man. It’s kindled in story-telling and fills the pages of books and libraries. It conquers tragedy with honest tales and tears. And it’s wakened by love.

The Fire Within is a great book for any child who loves squirrels and/or cats and/or dragons. It’s a wonderful source of encouragement for library visits, nature quests, art and writing. The simple text and many layers of story should intrigue both eager and reluctant readers and inspire them to look for more. I really loved this book.
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LibraryThing member TerraO
A college student named David finds a collection of clay dragons that come to life and have magical powers. One of them is his own personal dragon named Gadzooks which can predict the future. David later finds the these dragons die when they are not loved.
I would use this book to teach my children
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about kindness and helping others.
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LibraryThing member iris.boullion98
The main character in this book is a boy named David. David comes to live with Elizabeth and lucy pennykettle while he is in college. While David is staying there Liz (Elizabeth) gives a a special clay dragon he names gadzookes, Li zmakes clay dragons for a living.
LibraryThing member MonicaM7
Great book! I liked how there were many parts in the story that eventually came together, making me wonder what was going to happen next in the book.
LibraryThing member DaVi0697
This is series is one of the best I have ever read
LibraryThing member chiknlivr88
people that like to read books about dragons and adventure would like this book
LibraryThing member PardaMustang
This book was an awesome read to share with my little ones. Charming and engaging. We all couldn't wait to find out what happens next, both with Conker the squirrel and with David and his clay dragon Gadzooks. Looking forward to reading the next one!
LibraryThing member Menagerie
read this with my 8-year old daughter. We both felt that it was a bit slow and despite being touted as a book about dragons, it's just as much about squirrels. Yep, squirrels. D'Lacey doles out the revelations very slowly and David, the protagonist, is a little too slow on the uptake for my taste,
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but overall, it's a solid children's chapter book. There are three more books in the series and I'm sure we'll be moving on to them.
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LibraryThing member vviinncceenntt
Chris D'Lacey's The Fire Within surprised me with it's strange plot that is far from being mainly about dragons. From looking at the book and the title, most people would think the book is about dragons. However, it isn't. It's about squirrels.

David Rain, the main character, just wanted a room to
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rent while he attends college classes. And Miss Elizabeth Pennykettle's room, shortened to Liz, fit the bill. And according to the requirements that he must like children, cats and dragons. However, there was only one cat and one child to deal with, but there were many dragons, clay dragons which nest all over the house, such as in bookshelves, windowsills, and tables. All these clay dragons we just kilned and created by Liz. Even though these dragon's aren't necessarily real, they can still change and do actions such as appearing and disappearing from their original sitting places and how their eye color changes when you're not looking at them. And David's dragon, Gadzooks, is an intelligent story-writing dragon that helps David write his story about the squirrels in their neighborhood.

There are many unique characters in this book. Some you meet right at the beginning, some in the middle, and some not even until the end. The most unique character, in my opinion would be Lucy. First of all, Lucy is an eleven year old girl who loves squirrels. She is very energetic and curious, and she loves many animals, especially squirrels. Lucy is very energetic because she likes to do many things, such as when she was playing a game and she was going to race, she was very hyper and doesn't usually get tired in many situations. She is also curious because she asks a lot of questions and one time, in the middle of the book, she overheard David and Sophie talking together. Next David got mad at her and he took a while to get back to normal.

Lucy has affection for Conker, which is a squirrel that Lucy found by her house. Conker has one injured eye, which causes many inconveniences to himself and Lucy. Out of all the squirrels in her neighborhood, Lucy has the most affection for Conker. However, the Pennykettle's neighbor, Mr. Bacon, does not like squirrels and plans to trap Conker as he still wanders around his yard too. Luckily, David captures Conker just in time before Mr. Bacon caught him. Conker's adventure goes on for a while, to many places and different people, though an end to his life eventually happens.

I would recommend this book to anybody who loves animals, especially squirrels, and to people who enjoy some adventure and humor. This book would also be good for someone who likes fantasy, although there's not much of it since the story is more about squirrels than dragons. Did I mention that this is only the first book in a series of five?
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LibraryThing member SheilaCornelisse
This is an enjoyable book for elementary students and would make a great read aloud. My only problem with it was that I was expecting it to have more content about dragons but it focused more on squirrels.
LibraryThing member DebbieMcCauley
First in a series called the Last Dragon Chronicles. 20-year-old college student David is desperate for a place to live. He rents a room on Wayward Crescent from Liz Pennykettle and her 10-year-old daughter, Lucy. Liz creates and sells clay dragons at a local market and Lucy is trying to save some
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squirrels from a neighbour who arranged to have their home, an oak tree, cut down. Liz creates a dragon especially for David. Its name is Gadzooks and it’s ability is story writing. David notices unusual things such as the fact that the house is always warm and yet possesses no obvious heat source and also that there is no kiln to fire the newly made dragons. With help from Gadzooks David writes a story for Lucy’s 11th birthday about the squirrels. There are clues scattered throughout the book on what abilities Liz and Lucy, as well as their dragons, possess, but if David does not love his dragon, all is lost.

The focus on this tale is the relationship between Lucy, Liz and David. There is a lack of action and a slow pace to the book, but it is interesting as the reader tries to unfold the events that take place into some sort of understanding of the story.
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LibraryThing member Jbaughman123
Name: The Fire Within
Author: Chris D'Lacey

I rated this book four stars because the author did a pretty good job at making me want to read this, and I really liked the content found in this book. It is mainly about a man who moved in with a mother and her daughter, and he finds little clay dragons
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that can come to life.
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LibraryThing member Speilberg10
I found that there was two seperate stories happening in the novel which did not complement each other. Also, the dialect and actions of the characters (in particular the 20 year old and the mother) were not appropriate to their ages. Had the 20 year old been 15 or 16 then his behaviour would have
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made more sense as well as how the mother reacts to him.
In short this novel could have been split easily into two smaller seperate novels (one being the squirel adventure and the other the mystery of the dragons) and been much stronger works. Together they just made the novel seem weak.
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LibraryThing member nicholasvb1
This is about a family that consists of a mother and a daughter who are renting one of there rooms to strangers. One day a stranger did come and take the room he is there for collage. Little does he know that this family is very odd. The mom makes dragons for a living and the daughter has a strange
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fetish for squirrels. Soon he discovers that the girl names some of the squirrels that she sees but all of them have gone missing but one. one has a bad eye that it cant see out of, and the mom made a dragon for him but it wasn't any normal dragon it was a special dragon that could talk to him in a way but he didn't know that yet. He went to the local book store and figured out that his mean neighbor worked there so he went to the local garden where he found nuts and acorns. he brought some home and made a trap to attract the squirrel but instead he caught a different squirrel. So the girl talks to her dragon and gets that squirrel to go find the blind one. in the end they find the squirrel and the guy rights a book with his dragon about the whole story
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LibraryThing member JSIS-Reviews
The Fire Within is a mysterios book that has held many secrets about the magic of the dragons. Witness the amazing, magical dragon help David on his magical adventure and writing his book. I really liked this book because you couldn't expect anything that would happen because it was always a
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mystery. Once i found out that this was a series, i was jumping and screaming like a little girl.
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LibraryThing member JLinfitt
42 Wayward Crescent is a seemingly ordinary home filled with clay dragons that are more than they seem and a little girl with a big heart and an equally big imagination. When David, a new college student, moves into the Pennykettle’s spare room he’s immersed in Elizabeth’s and her eleven year
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old daughter Lucy’s world. Almost right from the start we are introduced to a grey squirrel named Conker who holds a special place in Lucy’s heart. With the cutting down of the big oak tree on the street all the other squirrels leave, leaving Conker to face a big scary world by himself. A hurt eye, an evil crow, and a cranky old man against him makes Lucy enlist David’s help in rescuing him so he can join the rest of his friends in the library gardens. Alongside is another story about magical dragons and through his, David discovers something about Elizabeth and Lucy as well as himself.

First in The Last Dragon Chronicles, it’s a beautiful story about overcoming obstacles and helping someone in need. It unfolds steadily introducing the reader to a multitude of lovable and interesting characters, dragons and squirrels, and touching the heart. It’s a story that will appeal to young animal lovers who especially have a special soft spot for those furry little creatures in need.

The Fire Within won the Rotherham Children’s Book Award in 2002.
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LibraryThing member bookwren
This is one of my comfort books that I read over every few years.
LibraryThing member JanW.B1
David a college student, rents a room at 42 Wayward Crescent, Scrubbley, MA. The other inhabitants of the house are Elizabeth Penikketle(Liz) and her daughter Lucy (11 years). They make dragons out of clay. However, David quickly finds out that something is wrong. Lucy is constantly looking for
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Conker, a squirrel with one eye. Liz makes a dragon for David, called Gadzooks. David uses Gadzooks as an inspiration for writing a story for Lucy, a story about Conker and Snigger, which actually turns out to be true...
I liked this book very much. I was a little frustrated that it wasn't very focused on dragons and most of the time wandered to squirrels. Nevertheless, it was fun to read. I think I liked it because I like dragons very much. All considered, I still can't wait to get my hands on the next book, Fire Star. Those are my reasons for 4 stars.
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LibraryThing member rata
I found this book rather boring and repetitive and this has left me questioning whether to carry on and read the series. A 20 year old student David comes to live with Liz and her persistent, annoying daughter Lucy. I personally found Lucy 's intrusive behaviour and her mother's pandering to her
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every whim annoying. Liz sculpts ceramic dragons and the house is full of them. David is left wondering what's the Hrrr coming from her studio and how does she fire them without a kiln? Lucy knows the dragon secrets but isn't allowed to tell. The dragons Liz creates for people have that persons characteristics, inner desire sculpted in them. Liz scuplts David a dragon named Gadzooks that seems to be helping him write. Lucy, constantly latched on to David and pulls him into her search for an injured squirrel in the backyard and the nearby library gardens. She practically forces David to write a book for her about the squirrels she knows. In the last few chapters David learns of the secret and that believing and loving your dragon keeps the fire within it to stay kindled.
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LibraryThing member DonteR.B4
The book begins with David Rain a college student looking for a place to stay. He finds a house that will allow him to stay. The house was the Pennykettle’s. David didn’t know what the cost of living with them would be. The main characters in the book are Liz, the owner the Pennykettle house
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and Lucy her daughter, who is in middle school and is a descendant of a dragon. During David’s first day in the Pennykettle household Lucy was concerning him with a squirrel she saw get injured. She named the squirrel Conker. She saw him with one eye tightly closed as if it had been clawed out. She made David promise to help her catch the squirrel and bring it to safety. One day while Lucy was off at school David went to the library where he saw the Pennykettle’s neighbor, Mr. Bacon. Mr. Bacon was suspected to have clawed Conker’s eye out with his rake.
When David asked Mr. Bacon for a squirrel book, instead of telling him where the books on squirrels would be, he showed him the gardens where he could study them in person. While David was there he noticed that a squirrel needed both eyes to climb up a tree. This meant that Conker wouldn’t be able to climb; he would have just been running in circles not being able to protect himself or escape. When David was on his journey home from the library he saw that Mr. Bacon was making a trap. David tricked Mr. Bacon by telling him to put the trap up in a tree to catch Conker. Soon David made a trap of his own to catch Conker. The only problem was that he needed a box, but all of the boxes were in a room called the “Dragons Den” where Liz made her clay dragons. When David entered the room he didn’t find a kiln, or an oven to heat clay. This made him suspicious so he asked for his own dragon. While the dragon was being made he tried to sneak in on Liz while she was in the process. As he touched the knob it burned his hand.
David’s dragon was named Gadzooks. Gadzooks was a writing dragon since David was very good at writing stories, and it would help him while writing papers. David got really suspicious when he would think something and the Gadzooks would write it on a pen pad he was made with. Then David found Conker in the trap that he made . David soon took Conker to a lady name Sophie that was part of wild life rescue team. Later on David and Sophie s started dating as they talked more about Conker and his injuries. David found out that Conker’s eye had healed but he had a kidney failure. They let him roam the library gardens to live the time he had left with other squirrels. When Conker died David got really depressed and left without telling anyone. When David came back to the house he found out he was right. Liz and Lucy told him about the dragons. They told him that the dragons were real and that they made them with magic not fire. At the end of the story Gadzooks, David’s dragon, wrote a word on his note pad. The word was “Spikey” and it was underlined twice.
The book cleared everything up for me because I read the series of the books backwards. This told me everything I needed to know about the series. It was a well written book that I would encourage everyone to read even if they don’t like fantasy. This book has action for boys and drama for girls, so the author did a good job in making it something boys and girls would like. I would rate this book a five out of five stars, because I really like the series of books and the storyline all goes together. This is not the best book I have ever read but it was a very good book. The only thing I don’t like about the ending of the book is that it leaves you wanting more and questioning what “Spikey” means.
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