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Dragon’s Fire

Dragons in a Bag  (Dragons in a Bag, volume 1)

By Zetta Elliott 

22 Dec, 2023

Doing the WFC's Homework


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2018’s Dragons in a Bag is the first volume in Zetta Elliott’s Dragons in a Bag middle-grade fantasy series. Illustrations are by Geneva B.

Faced with imminent eviction, Jaxon’s mother takes the landlord to court. Court being no place for a young boy, Jaxon cannot accompany his mother. Having few alternatives, Jaxon’s mother reluctantly leaves Jaxon in the company of the woman known as Ma.

Jaxon is about to learn why his mother was reluctant to turn to Ma.

Ma is not the previously unmentioned and presumably estranged grandmother Jaxon assumes she is. The old lady used to babysit Jaxon’s mother when she was young. Apparently, there is no escape from being the sitter of last resort. This is a truth that does nothing to take the edge off of Ma’s irritability.

Ma has a life of her own, one that cannot be put on pause simply because she has in her company a young, uninformed boy. A firm believer that children can learn on the fly, she drags Jaxon along with her as she attends to errands involving a mysterious package.

Ma is a witch. Her package contains newly hatched, easily imprinted dragons. Magic-poor New York is no place to raise a dragon. Therefore, under no circumstances are the hatchlings to see humans before being delivered to their rightful destination.

Perhaps had Ma been on her own the delivery would have gone off without a hitch. Accompanied as she is by Jaxon, Ma’s straightforward plan is complicated by Jaxon’s friend Vik and Vik’s little sister, Kavita. Kavita is a girl for whom admonitions are temptations.

The inability of little girls to resist peeking is not Ma’s most pressing problem. That would be a transportation mishap that delivers Ma far from her intended destination. Ma is marooned in the age of the dinosaurs. Can Jaxon save the day?


More time travel! At least in this case, time travel is more of a garnish and not the whole meal.

To be frank, Ma has been doing what she does for a very long time and doesn’t actually need a young boy to save her from dinosaurs. However, there is no way for Jaxon to know that. Ma could have used Jaxon to keep a certain little girl from poking her nose where it does not belong … but oh well. Maybe it’s Kavita’s first step on a path to becoming a witch.

In addition to having his eyes opened to the fantastic world around him, Jaxon learns certain facts about his family history that his mother declined to share with him. Her reticence appears to be driven by a distaste for supernatural adventures. To know of the unseen world is to be dragged into it. This could be a real bummer1.

As this is a middle-grade book, nobody’s mind is shredded and nobody ends up in a T Rex’s digestive system2. In fact (small spoiler) nobody is evicted, at least not yet. However, Jaxon does learn some details about his family that are not exactly comforting.

This is the first book in the series, which means a certain fraction of the book is spent establishing the narrative world, introducing characters, and setting up plot threads that will no doubt be further developed in later books. There is room for a full plot, however, which the author does include. It’s a series but one made up of reasonably stand-alone books.

This book falls nicely into I am not the audience but I’d buy it for someone who was” category.

Dragons in a Bag is available here (Amazon US), here (Amazon Canada), here (Amazon UK), here (Apple Books), here (Barnes & Noble), and here (Chapters-Indigo).

1: Fear of being dragged into the unseen world is perhaps the reason that Jaxon’s mother flinches away whenever the supernatural is concerned. Perhaps this is an overreaction. On the other hand, maybe getting marooned in the time of the dinosaurs is a commonplace event for witches and their associates.

2: Not only no mind-shredding — no pets suffer terrible fates, something that cannot be ruled out for middle-grade books.