Reviewed by Marten Weldon (age 11) for Reader Views (10/16)
“Billy Bedivere in the Quest for the Dragon Queen” by Alan Sproles is the story of 12-year-old Billy Bedivere. When Billy hears screams coming from a nearby cave, he disobeys his dad and leaves his friends to enter the cave and investigate. He falls into a gigantic pit that spits him out into a garden full of talking flowers. In order to get back home, he must defeat Flagara, the giant two-headed Dragon Queen. On his quest to conquer the beast and return home, Billy encounters man-eating trees, evil shape-shifting witches, pixies, giant spiders, trolls, and Hansel and Gretel. He also meets another big surprise, but you’ll have to read the book to find out more.
I had a hard time relating to and understanding the main character. I kind of understand why Billy still loved fairy tales, since his mother, from who he was now estranged, used to read them to him, but it is somewhat odd for twelve-year-olds like Billy and his friends to still wear superhero pajamas and for one to suck his thumb. At one point, the author calls the main character “Little Billy,” but then smacks him with romantic kisses from Gretel. It just doesn’t seem to fit.
The pace of the book picked up at the end. All the characters worked together and used their individual skills to help defeat Flagara. It would seem that everyone should live happily ever after, but a surprise twist at the very end leaves an opening for a possible sequel.
I would recommend “Billy Bedivere in the Quest for the Dragon Queen” by Alan Sproles for kids who like fairy tales and adventure. I think that independent readers under the age of eleven would be the age group most likely to enjoy the book.