Dragons in a Bag
by Zetta Elliott (2018)
Dragons in a Bag is a much-needed contribution to the world of fantasy kidlit. It practically stands alone in a subgenre lacking characters of color. In fact, author Zetta Elliott intentionally wrote this book to add some representation to this space and show children that “magic can happen to anyone, anywhere—not just white kids in a castle in England.”
So now we have this modern fantasy adventure starring Jaxon, an African-American boy from Brooklyn whose normal city life turns upside-down one day when his mother leaves him with a mysterious elderly lady known simply by “Ma.”
At first Ma seems like a crotchety old lady that is burdened by Jaxon’s presence. And she is. But she’s more than that. She’s hiding a secret that she is unwilling to reveal. A secret linking Jaxon’s world to a world filled with magic. And when Jaxon discovers this world, he finds much more than just magic.
Dragons in a Bag dips into the fantasy realm yet remains tethered to the real world. And Jaxon is in the middle balancing the normalcy of his mom’s present-day Brooklyn with Ma’s mysterious land that exists outside of the typical constraints of time and space. Can he remain that bridge between the two?
Students will be captivated the idea of this hidden world of magic tucked away in a modern, familiar landscape. They’ll love going on this adventure with Jaxon and Ma. And, of course, they’ll be enamored by the baby dragons that come along for the ride. Dragons in a Bag has just the right amount of magical realism that makes the story relatable—and perhaps even plausible.