NZ Forest Native Birds
Critique by Tessa Duder for The Little Dragon Without Fire

This is what Tessa Duder, author of the famous Alex quartet, wrote about The Little Dragon Without Fire. For those who wanted one, she was providing, for a small fee, critiques of entries in the competition that this story won.

Not an easy task you set for yourself, Laraine, but I think you’ve succeeded excellently. There are many children’s stories published on the general themes of dragons, and not always as good as this. I liked the mischievous Uncle Inferno, and the innocence of Firetongue setting off on his journey. The story is very well structured, and the ending highly satisfactory. You might like to consider sending it (if you haven’t already) to a good children’s publisher like Scholastic in Auckland or Mallinson Rendel in Wellington. The text is long for a picture book, but not prohibitively so—someone might take a punt! Certainly the story would lend itself to some very fanciful illustrations. So, keep at it!

Mallinson Rendel had already made it plain to me they viewed stories about dragons and witches with jaundiced eyes, but I did send it to Scholastic, though without any enthusiasm or hope because, as far as I could tell, they were no longer publishing fantasy, preferring instead books about disasters and sport (in which the protagonist has to learn something about himself) My manuscript winged its way back to me within a week, but for some reason got lost on the way and six months later I was forced to get back in touch with Scholastic. That’s not something an author likes doing: pestering editors about a submission is a definite no-no!

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