A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Like previous Dragons in a Bag books, The Enchanted Bridge is packed with historic and cultural references that work their way into the story, from African folklore and mythology to the Cloud Gate sculpture, aka the Bean, in Chicago. The narrative voice is smart and there's lots of good vocabulary to learn, including "prototype," "hostility," "extensive," "adrenaline," "radioactive," "reminisce."
"Maybe failing at one job makes me better qualified for another." Strong messages of family and friendship, the sadness of parting, and the bonds that keep you connected as you each travel your own path. Realizing that there are people out there who will trick you and lie to you for their own (probably bad) ends -- and learning how to spot them and resist their wiles. Courage, perseverance, resourcefulness, and respect are important themes. Also, accepting and living up to responsibility.
Positive Role Models
Jax is a loving son and grandson, and trying to find his path. He's kindhearted and a good friend to Vik, Kavita, Kenny, and their magical pals, all of whom find ways to work together and overcome insurmountable difficulties. Adult characters, magical and otherwise, are complex and nuanced -- Jax's grandfather Trub is tricked and imprisoned by a villain, who claims he's not a villain at all and has arguments to back it up while trying to cast his sister the protector as the actual villain. Figuring out who's telling the truth and how to protect your loved ones is an urgent priority.
Protagonist Jax and his extended family are Black, and some magical beings appear Black in their human form. His friends Vikram and Kavita's family is Gujarati (Gujarat is a state along the western coast of India). Their pal Kenny is White, and dyslexic. Thanks to events at the end of Book 3 and beyond, they are also, respectively, a phoenix, a spider, a dragon, and a fairy, all of whose powers come in really handy at various points along the way. A few characters use the pronoun "they."
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Violence & Scariness
A villain has imprisoned Jax's grandfather, and Jax is on a quest to find him. The villain himself was imprisoned for 1,000 years -- by his own sister, who saw it as the only way to protect her world. A cosmic battle looms, as magical beings try to prevent a world-destroying force from reaching the human world. Lots of perilous and frightening situations, including giant spiders (who are friendly, even though people are terrified of them), flames, creepy underground tunnels with piranha-filled rivers, and potentially mortal combat. Since phoenixes are known for dying in a burst of flame and being reborn, Jax is really worried his phoenix will die sooner rather than later.
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"Fart" used a lot, since a magical baboon has a horrible farting problem.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Enchanted Bridge is the fourth installment in Zetta Elliot's Dragons in a Bag series, in which a Black tween from New York, Jax, grapples with his destiny in the world of magic -- a destiny that involves most of his family as well as his friends Vikram, Kavita, and Kenny. Plot threads from the previous three books converge and perilous adventures unfold as the kids venture into the world of magic to reunite with old friends, save Jax's captive grandfather, and take part in a cosmic battle pitting a powerful, protective dragon against a world-destroying force. Scary spiders prove friendly; toothy piranhas not so much. Once again, a cliff-hanger ending sets up the next book, and along the way there's lots of intriguing detail about African culture, mythology, and wildlife, as well as a family's complicated relationship with the world of magic.
Is It Any Good?
Giant spiders, toothy piranhas, and farting baboons are just some of the surprises awaiting Jax and his pals in the world of magic, in Zetta Elliott's fourth volume in this exciting series. As the kids cross The Enchanted Bridge in their quest to rescue Jax's grandfather and reunite with friends from earlier installments, there's a lot of peril, and also a lot of heart brought to life in Cherise Harris' plentiful black-and-white illustrations. As a cosmic battle looms and the kids learn to use their emerging magical powers, there are relatably comic moments. Also poignant contemplation of life's changes, and the bonds of love and friendship that keep us connected.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.