Review: The Secret of the Dragon Gems

The Secret of the Dragon Gems

by Chris Baron & Rajani Larocca, illustrated by Sam Dawson

Yellow Jacket (imprint of Simon and Schuster), 2023

Category: Middle Grade
Reviewer: Stacy Mozer

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When Sam and Tripti find two special rocks during a meteor shower at sleepaway camp, they cannot imagine how life changing the moment will be for both of them and the "rocks" they've found. But Sam and Tripti are not the only ones interested in the rocks. The sleepaway camp owner, Sanford P. Dilloway, is also after the stones and he has his mind set on getting them. As Sam and Tripti learn more about the mysteriously active stones, which they've named Jasper and Opal after the living rocks in their favorite book series, The Dragon Gems, they also learn more about each other and what it means to be a true friend. 

While Judaism is not the main focus of this book, it is woven into each of Sam's communications. Sam's Bubbe is an important supporting character and the authors pause the narrative between Sam and Tripti to give them opportunities to cook traditional Jewish food such as latkes and kugel and talk about Jewish  holidays and Bubbe's rabbi's sermons. Tripti's Indian heritage is also well integrated into the story.
Told through a series of letters, instant messages, book pages, and other forms of online communication, middle graders will definitely enjoy this story.

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Reviewer Stacy Mozer a veteran elementary school teacher, currently teaching third grade. In addition to being a teacher, she is a middle grade author and a book blogger.