C. L. Schneider
Indie Book Spotlight: Sarah and the Dragons, by Michael R. Stern
When the storm began, young Sarah was left behind as her friends ran away. She was all alone. Or so she thought. Sarah heard voices, and desperately called for help. Sebastian and Trevor heard her, and the rescue was a success. A strange, new friendship was born. You see, Sebastian and Trevor are dragons, who started the day miles and miles away, chasing the silver birds whose wings didn’t move. Through the long, stormy night, Sarah and the dragons talked, and when Sebastian and Trevor brought Sarah safely home, she knew she had made new friends. But she had no idea what adventures were about to unfold.
"Sarah and the Dragons" is a story of friendship and family, overcoming obstacles and finding the joy of life in even the smallest things. Sarah learns a lesson on the way to treat those different from us.
Lost and Found
Morning had broken open with the Great Orange Ball poking over the tip of their island. No fluffy white clouds, just a touch of blue sky, and dark clouds in the distance warned a change was in the air. After a filling breakfast of berries and toasted corn, Trevor and Sebastian decided today would be a great day to practice joy-flying, and a chance to show off the dipsy-doodle twist they had learned. The best way to avoid chores was to be somewhere else, they agreed. So off they went. Higher and higher they climbed, until they could fly behind the silver bird. They had always wanted to see for themselves how it flew without moving its wings.
“Yech,” said Trevor. “What is that awful smell?”
“I don’t know, but it’s coming from under its wings. Maybe that’s how it protects itself. We should leave it alone.”
“Then let’s dipsy down for a while. We’re way up.”
And they did. Dipsy doodle twists made gravity shudder. Sebastian went first. He dove straight down, turning like a corkscrew, with Trevor right behind. They dove until the boom sounded around them, and then, with Trevor on his tail, Sebastian headed up again and flew four loop-the-loops, one right after the other.
“Let’s do that again,” said Trevor, “only I go first this time.” Up they went, looking for another silver bird, so they would be high enough for a really big boom. Time after time, they traded places, and boom after boom made them happy.
“Where are we?” asked Sebastian, scanning the open and empty sea around him while he glided and rocked in Trevor’s wake. With no easy, or visible, answer to his question, he said, “We should start for home.”
“One more time,” Trevor said.
“No. Look out there. The Great Orange Ball has left us. And look at that wall of water. That’s a dragon storm. We need to get home now.”
“We can dipsy on the way,” Trevor suggested.
After one last boom, they were swept up by the high winds. Sebastian’s sharp eyes spotted a shoreline, but which shore he had no idea. The decision was no longer a choice. They had to land. Buffeted by wind they could not have predicted, they searched below for a safe landing. The two dark specks plummeted from the roiling clouds, barely avoiding the lightning bolts. Even reaching land challenged them as giant waves reached up and tried to grab them.
“There,” said Trevor, “that hill, above the sand and water.” The wind, normally their friend, formed a wall. So they dove low and fast, skimming the waves, swerving like drunk drivers, under the wind.
“We need to hide,” Sebastian said. “Those trees will keep us unnoticed and sheltered. It’s a bit like home.” Sebastian took the lead, leaning to his left, his right wing shaking in the powerful gust.
“I’m exhausted,” Trevor complained. “And hungry.” He scanned the sky and told his friend they would not be going home for a while.
A small voice, one neither of them recognized, said, “Can you help me? I’m lost.”
“Did you hear that?” Sebastian asked.
“More important, what was it from?” Trevor asked.
“It’s from me,” the voice answered.
“What are you?” Trevor asked.
“What’s a Sarah?” Trevor asked, after bumping down on land. Turning his head as far as it would go in both directions, he saw the ocean, the sand, lots of trees and hills.
“It’s me,” the voice replied.
Sebastian scanned the hill. Something else bothered him. “Can you hear us?”
“Yes. Who are you?”
Trevor started to answer, but his friend shook his head to stop him. “My name is Sebastian.”
“Hello, Sebastian. My name is Sarah.”
“Hello, Sarah. How can you hear me?”
“Your voice rings in my head.”
Again, Sebastian held Trevor from words. “Are you . . . a dragon?”
“Of course not, silly. I’m a girl.”
“I can’t see you. Are you invisible?”
“I’m not invisible. At least, I don’t think I am. But I can’t see you either. I can’t see anything.”
“Are you in a cave, where the Great Orange Ball doesn’t visit?”
“I don’t know what that ball is, but I’m standing on grass, so I guess I’m not in a cave. But I am lost.”
“Look around and tell me what you see. Then we can find you.”
“Sebastian, I can’t look around. I can’t see anything. I’m blind.”
He looked at Trevor and Trevor looked back. A new word confronted them. “What’s blind?” asked Trevor.
“Who are you?” Sarah asked the new voice.
“I’m Trevor and I can dipsy-doodle twist. What can you do?”
“I don’t know what I can do, but I want to go home.” Then she began to cry, another new sound for them, because dragons don’t cry.
“What are you doing now, Sarah?”
With a whimper and a sniffle, she said, “Crying.” Such a sad sound the dragons had never heard.
“That’s pretty good,” said Trevor. “I can’t do that. I don’t even know what it is. Is that a thing that girls can do?”
“Everyone—can do it,” she sniffed again. “Please help me.”
A gust of wind rustled their wings and they could feel the water in the wind. “Sarah, can you feel the wind on your face?” asked Sebastian.
“Do you know where the Big Salty is?”
Sarah didn’t answer right away. She was thinking about the big salty. “You mean the ocean. It sounds like it’s right in front of me.”
“Ocean,” said Trevor. “We learned another new word.”
Sebastian made a face. Trevor could find something cheerful even in the worst places. Ignoring his friend, Sebastian told Sarah to stay where she was. They were coming to find her.
“But, you should know, Sarah, so you won’t be afraid, that we’re dragons. We’ll find you and get you unlost.”
“Hurry,” said Sarah. “It’s starting to rain. And I’ve never met dragons before.”
About the Author
Michael Stern has said that he would like to be remembered as a great storyteller. "I've been telling stories since childhood. I still love a good story, no matter the source." Since he began writing as a career later in life, he has learned how difficult good writing can be, and strives to improve his grasp of the nuance of powerful storytelling. "Many good writers ply their trade, but few are great. Many good writers are financially successful because they write stories that captivate an audience at the right time. Great writers transcend time, at least in part because they speak to the human condition regardless of time or location. They create memorable characters, thrust them into conflicts internal and external, and take the reader to emotional attachment found only in a well-structured story."
Mr. Stern began his writing career at the confluence of tragedy and opportunity. The death of his father led to his first book, "Reflections on a Generous Generation." Initially intended as an anecdotal remembrance for his family and friends, his research expanded his appreciation of the lives of not just his father, but of a generation that changed the world, and left a blueprint for future generations to follow. After his award-winning first book, his focus turned to learning how to write fiction. "I thought that meeting people from the past, and learning from them firsthand would be a fascinating experience. Alas, as they say, once you're dead, you're dead. I've been a history buff my entire life, and one figure stood out for me--Robert E. Lee." His interest in the American Civil War has been life long, so a time travel story seemed a reasonable next step. His Quantum Touch series begins with "Storm Portal," a best-selling and award-winning story of a high school history teacher whose classroom door opens a portal in space-time. Not only does it open to the past, but becomes a passageway through the present, a kind of "Beam me up, Scotty" moment.
"As a student of history, I am a follower of current events, and being able to move from event to event by stepping across a threshold grabbed hold from the start. My protagonist, Fritz Russell, is the history teacher who accidentally meets the President of the United States by barging into the Oval Office through the portal. Thus begins the relationship that continues through the series. In addition to the president, the cast of characters represent everyday people who are thrust into roles requiring courage and thoughtfulness, as well as a willingness to step beyond personal safety and security in the betterment of the world." Quantum Touch is an adventure, wrapped in political suspense and mystery, with a science fiction underpinning.
Mr. Stern lives in New Jersey outside Philadelphia with his wife, Linda, who is also an author. A graduate of Cornell University, he has pursued writing as a "perfect ending to a successful career."
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Sarah and the Dragons is an adorable tale for the young and the young at heart. Having read some of the books in the author’s time travel series, Quantum Touch, I was really excited to see how he handled something completely different. And I wasn’t disappointed. This is a wonderful story to share with your child, full of fantasy, friendship, magic, and laughter. The characters are interesting, intelligent, and curious, and so much fun to follow along on their journey. In Sarah and the Dragons, Michael R. Stern has crafted a children’s book that successfully engages young minds with excitement and adventure, while paralleling real-world issues, offering many teachable moments, and encouraging their imagination to soar. Highly recommended.