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The Dragons of Ordinary Farm Hardcover – Deckle Edge, June 2, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 5–8—When siblings Tyler and Lucinda are sent to spend their summer with distant relatives at Ordinary Farm, they soon find that the farm is anything but ordinary. The animals include a variety of mythical beasts, and even though the siblings have been sworn to secrecy, no one wants to explain to them how these unusual creatures and a variety of unusual human residents have come there. A magical library and its ghosts provide hints to the answers, but it's up to the children to put the clues together and continue their family tradition as the caregivers of Ordinary Farm. While they work to understand its secrets, Tyler and Lucinda also have action-packed roles to play in thwarting a rich businessman who's planning on taking over the property. Williams and Beale have created a gripping fantasy with realistic but appealing characters as well as scientific magic that explains the appearance of legendary creatures. Boy-girl protagonists and nonstop adventure make this a good choice for fantasy fans and reluctant readers of both genders, who will be left, like Tyler and Lucinda, looking forward to their next visit to Ordinary Farm.—Beth L. Meister, Milwaukee Jewish Day School, WI
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

This begins with the tried-and-true device of having two siblings shunted off to spend a summer with an odd, distant relative who is up to all manner of mysterious goings-on but flies off the handle when the kids naturally get a little curious. Tyler and Lucinda discover that their great-uncle Gideon is raising dragons, griffins, unicorns, and stablefuls of other mythical beasties. Where did they come from, and how are they kept a secret? The first half of the story is belabored by loads of heavy description as the authors, the husband-and-wife team of Williams (a noted adult fantasist) and Beale, struggle to whip up enough personality to spread across the considerably large cast. But the pace picks up considerably when the kids set out for a bit of time travel and a journey into an alternate reality, both of which are teasingly quick jaunts away from the farm. Patient readers will be rewarded with an exciting conclusion and many tantalizing seeds planted for future summers. Grades 4-7. --Ian Chipman

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 4 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 880L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; 1 edition (June 2, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061543454
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061543456
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.3 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,101,969 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Former singer, shoe-seller, radio show host, and inventor of interactive sci-fi television, Tad Williams is now a full-time writer. His 'Memory, Sorrow and Thorn' series established him as an internationally bestselling fantasy author. The series that followed, 'Otherland', is now a multi-million-dollar MMO launching in 2012 from dtp/realU/Gamigo. Tad is also the author of the fantasy series, the 'Shadowmarch' books; the stand-alone Faerie epic, 'The War of the Flowers'; two collections of short stories ('Rite' and 'A Stark and Wormy Knight'), the Shakespearian fantasy 'Caliban's Hour' and, with his partner & collaborator Deborah Beale, the childrens'/all-ages fantasy series, the 'Ordinary Farm' novels. Coming in September 2012 are the Bobby Dollar novels, fantasy thrillers set again the backdrop of the monstrously ancient cold war between Heaven and Hell: the first is 'The Dirty Streets of Heaven.'

Tad is also the author of 'Tailchaser's Song': his first novel spawned the subgenre of cats and fantasy that we see widely today. 'Tailchaser's Song' is currently in preproduction as an animated film from Animetropolis/IDA.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Olaf Keith on June 2, 2009
Format: Hardcover
The husband-and-wife team of Tad Williams & Deborah Beale publish the first volume in their Ordinary Farm series (which will eventually run to five volumes). THE DRAGONS OF ORDINARY FARM is aimed at a somewhat younger audience than Tad Williams' other books, but his adult readers will probably like it just as well.

The two main protagonists Tyler and Lucinda, who are unwillingly sent away to the suppossedly boring farm of a very distant relative to spend their summer there, are quickly drawn into the many secrets of Ordinary farm, its strange inhabitant and its even stranger livestock.

The book is fast-paced despite the large cast of characters and the plot thickens quickly. The tone is modern (think of "Otherland for kids") and the story is less straightforward fantasy but rather science fantasy. Many secrets are revealed and some mysteries solved, but although the first book offers closure, the story is far from over and many mysteries remain intact to be solved in future volumes. Perfect summer book for kids and parents alike.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By cyan on June 23, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Authors Williams and Beale deftly mix action, adventure, mystery and humour in this perfect-for-summer read. The young protagonists, Tyler and Lucinda, are believable and engaging. The antagonists are plausibly motivated rather than gratuitously evil. The fantastical creatures are realistically dangerous, not fairy-tale idealizations.

Best of all, the conclusion is exciting and satisfying, yet leaves plenty of mysteries to delve into in the next volume. Much fun!
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Phoenix on April 26, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book was OK. I liked the premise of the "Ordinary" farm which had extraordinary animals and
farm hands. Like all fantasy, you had to pretty much buy into the explanation of why there were
extraordinary inhabitents without necessarily really understanding it. But thats OK. The only
thing that bothered me, paticularly in these enlightened times is that the main characters, a brother
and sister, are typically old-school American cliches. The boy is inventive, curious and brave while
his sister is emotional, cries a lot and is pretty cowardly. I didn't have a problem with the way the
boy was written at all, but why was the girl portrayed in such a largely negative manner? By the way,
if it matters, I am a male.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Terri Rowan on September 18, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Lucinda and Tyler are sent to an obscure relative's farm for the summer. The go, fully expecting six weeks of hard labor feeding cattle and who knew what else. What they discovered was beyond belief. Dragons, unicorns, and a flying monkey named Zaza. Uncle Gideon insists on keeping deep secrets, but how can he expect two curious kids to not explore Ordinary Farm's perfectly extraordinary contents?

The secrets go far, far deeper than the presence of mythological beasts and strange characters. While Lucinda and Tyler search for answers, outside forces plot to learn what happens at Ordinary Farm and use it to their own ends. Soon, the children discover that every answer comes at a price, and if they're not careful, that price could be too high to pay.

Set in a California Valley, far removed from the busyness of 21st century life, this is a imaginative tale with enough punch to appeal to today's young readers. From Tyler's obsession with his "Game Boss" to Lucinda's love for the mall, Williams and Beale have created a fresh pair of character to whom kids can easily relate. These kids also have the bigger issues that will endear them to today's kids: Their parents are divorced, they vary on the popularity spectrum, and they're very reliant on the availability of beloved technology. In other words: They're ordinary kids.

As with most fantasy adventure stories, it would be easy to go in and say, "Hey, where are the parents?!", and in this particular novel, the mother's choice to send them to Ordinary Farm is questionable at best. Others might cringe at the number of lies told throughout the book-which are explained and not glorified. But it comes down to the fact that this is escapist fiction at a time when kids need it most.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Arthur W Jordin on December 5, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Dragons of Ordinary Farm (2009) is the first Fantasy novel in the Ordinary Farm series. It is set in California within the current era.

In this novel, Tyler Jenkins is a preteen who likes to play video games. He also plays lots of heavy metal music.

Lucinda Jenkins is a teenager and the elder sister of Tyler. She has been temperamental and argumentative since the divorce.

Gideon Goldring is the owner of Ordinary Farm. He is the great-uncle of Tyler and Lucinda.

Patience Needle is the housekeeper at Ordinary Farm. She is the mother of Colin. She has a rather sadistic personality.

Simos Walkwell is an overseer at Ordinary Farm. He walks funny.

Ragnar Lodbrok is another overseer at the farm. He comes from somewhere around Denmark.

In this story, Gideon invites Tyler and Lucinda to the farm. Their mother doesn't remember a great-uncle Gideon, yet has a retreat to attend. She had been planning to leave the kids with a neighbor, but a visit to Ordinary Farm would be even better.

Tyler and Lucinda take the train to a town near the farm. On the way, they read a pamphlet about cows sent to them by Uncle Gideon. Tyler also sees a flying animal outside their window. It looks like a monkey.

When they reach Willowside, Walkwell meets them and takes them to the farm in a horse-drawn wagon. They ride along for a quarter hour before turning onto a dirt track. Then the wagon takes them over the hills into a valley.

The farm has a huge house and many outbuildings. It is located in the middle of nowhere. Fortunately for the kids, the farm does have electricity for hair dryers and game chargers.
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