The Dragon In The Bookshop - Ewa Jozefkowicz
What a great, gripping book, full of action, adventure, feelings and challenges, all faced by the brave and brilliant pairing of Konrad and Maya!
I'm a big fan of Ewa's writing in any case, but this book is right up there amongst my favourites this year. There were lots of links personally for me - the loss of a father, living by the sea, a love of books, which made this book really something special. The feelings of Konrad, coming to terms with grief and loss and life afterwards, and literally having to find his voice again in the world, was skilfully and sensitively packaged into this tale of bravery and magical adventure, as Ewa pays homage to her own experiences of childhood bereavement, alongside the traditional Polish tale of the dragon of Wawel Castle.
It's everything you'd expect from an adventure - dramatic, scary, with twists and turns and characters that will keep readers engaged until the last page as they try to find the 'happy ever after' in both the book and real life. It has dragons, a bookshop and book-loving characters, a castle, and a story within a story - it's brilliant! But there's far more to this story, too...
Similarly to some of Ewa's previous writing, tackling food poverty and war, you can tell from the way this book is written - the depth of description of loss and a love of reading - that this is a deeply personal tale from the author, as that shines through in the writing. It will be evident to readers who may be facing similar events and feelings, and find this book a great help (see below for details of Grief Encounter, who are partners in the book), as it's based on Ewa's own experiences of losing her farther when she was a teenager and a tribute to his love of reading which inspired her own.
I particularly loved the quotes around reading and books that the book contains, such as this great one on the front of the proof copy (above).
I'm honoured that I was able to meet Ewa in real life earlier this year, and that I have a spot on the blogtour for this book. I am thrilled to be able to share with you some Q and A from her about the book and being an author:
One of the things I love most about being an author is the chance to visit schools and speak to children about what reading means to them. I’ve always thought of books as a portal into many different worlds. Imagine if you could step into one of them, not just in your imagination, but in real life? That’s exactly what happens to Kon in The Dragon in the Bookshop.
The book features a Polish legend about the Wawel dragon of Kraków. He lived in a cave below the castle, had an insatiable appetite and terrorised the locals. Nobody knew how to get rid of him! But Kon and his friend Maya soon find out there is much more to this dragon than meets the eye. Below are some brilliant questions from early readers that I’ve been asked when speaking about the book. I’ve also included some of my favourite questions about being an author and about me in general. Young readers always have a way of cheering me up!
What inspired you to write The Dragon In the Bookshop? The story is inspired by my Dad, who was a bookseller and who used to always read to me when I was little. He was a fan of legends and I particularly loved the legend about the dragon of Wawel. I asked him to read it to me over and over! Kon is partly based on me, as I too lost my dad when I was at secondary school. His dad’s bookshop is a magical place, based on my own dad’s workplace.
How do you create your characters? I think the most believable characters are those that weave together elements of people the author knows in real life. It can be something as small as describing the way that they laugh, or something much bigger – like an experience that a friend has had in real life.
What’s your favourite book that you’ve ever read? There are so many to choose from, this is almost an impossible question to answer! Esio Trot by Roald Dahl is the book I’ve re-read the most. It never fails to cheer me up. I just think it’s such a mad and brilliant idea for a story – two people falling in love through their mutual love of tortoises.
How long does it take to write a book? Such a good question. It’s different for every author. I know of some who have written bestsellers in as little as three months! Others take years. For me, I would say that a good average is about a year, which children are often surprised to hear.
I also receive some questions that have made me chuckle, including ‘How tall are you?’ (168 cm) and ‘Are you dressed up as one of your characters?’ (No, but I did have a particularly colourful jumper on that day, so I guess I could have been Izzy from The Mystery of The Colour Thief – my first book).
Check out what others have to say about the book on the blogtour stops above.
The Dragon in the Bookshop by Ewa Jozefkowicz (front cover illustration by Katy Riddell) is out on 7th July 2022 and will help promote Grief Encounter (www.griefencounter.org.uk) a wonderful charity that works with children who have lost someone they love.
Grief Encounter have a message for children and young people like Kon. As a charity they work closely with individuals, families, schools and professionals to offer a way through the anxiety, fear and isolation so often caused by the grief of losing someone close.
Grief Encounter provide immediate support with a FREEPHONE Grieftalk helpline 0808 802 0111 open Mon-Fri 9am-9pm, a live chat via their website or support by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Find out more about the author, publisher and illustrator via their Twitter links below:
Ewa also has her own website: https://ewajozefkowicz.com/books/
My thanks to Zephyr, Fritha and Ewa for my copy of the book for review and the place on the blogtour. Review by Rich Simpson (@richreadalot) July 2022. All views my own.