Bruce Coville is one of the most prolific children’s authors I’ve ever read. I read his Unicorn Chronicle duology (which I now find out has had two more books I really must get my hands on) a very long time ago. However, they were not the first introduction I had to this author. That honor goes to his Magic Shop books. First published in 1982, this is another series that can definitely be considered “Throwback”.
I think it all started with Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher. I was in either 3rd or 4th grade. Like I said, it was a really long time ago. The book was read to us in class and, as the title suggests, it was about dragons. Let me tell you something about me: I freaking LOVE dragons. Always have, always will. So when I heard there were more books in this series I snatched them out of the library so fast it made the librarians dizzy.
I completely read them out of order. First Jeremy, then the Skull, followed by Monster’s Ring and Jennifer Murdley’s Toad, and much later Juliet Dove. This is how you’re supposed to read them chronologically:
The Monster’s Ring
Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher
Jennifer Murdley’s Toad
The Skull of Truth
Juliet Dove, Queen of Love
I actually didn’t even know book 5 existed until last year and this past week I finally read it. It was like being a kid again, spending hours reading my favorite books when I probably should be doing other things. Actually, that’s still how I am. Some things never change.
Of the 5 books I’d say Skull of Truth would have to be my favorite. It fueled my love of Shakespeare (the skull is Yorick’s, briefly mentioned in Shakespeare’s Hamlet) and is probably the weirdest in the series. Jeremy is second (dude, dragons), then Monster’s Ring, Jennifer Murdley, and Juliet Dove. Do you have to read them in order? Nope. I certainly didn’t. Do they make a bit more sense if you do? Sure. But each book is an individual and complete story on its own.
I have to mention that I really hate the new covers (the ones in the first line at the top), all of my own copies are the ones in the second line except Juliet. So they don’t match. Queue the rage. If I could find a matching Juliet I would be the happiest collector on earth. But I’m pretty sure it doesn’t exist.
Did you ever read this series? Will you? Share your thoughts in the comments.