Silver Batal and the Water Dragon Races
(Water Dragon Races, #1)
Published by: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Publication date: June 4th 2019
Genres: Fantasy, Middle-Grade
Set in a vivid, Arab-inspired world filled with friendly and fearsome water dragons, K.D. Halbrook’s Silver Batal and the Water Dragon Races is a middle-grade fantasy adventure, with illustrations by Ilse Gort, that’s perfect for fans of Tui T. Sutherland, Sayantani DasGupta, and Roshani Chokshi.
Silver’s dreams of becoming a legendary water dragon racer come true when she befriends a rare dragon that can swim and fly.
Thirteen-year-old Silver Batal calls the desert home, but her heart belongs to the waters. Although she’s expected to become a jeweler like her father, Silver harbors a secret and forbidden wish to race water dragons. Destiny comes calling when her friendship with a mysterious old woman leads her to Hiyyan, a baby dragon that can swim and fly.
Risking everything, Silver, Hiyyan, and her resourceful cousin Brajon set off across the desert to join the legendary races in the royal city. But the road to Calidia is filled with danger, and the trio must band together as they encounter ferocious cave beasts, clever desert foxes, and cutthroat competition.
EXCERPT:Nebekker whistled. “Come on out, pretty one. My turn to be your mama for a little while.”
Silver waited, pretending not to be watching. Who in the desert was Nebekker talking to? Surely there couldn’t be children down in the cavern.
Nebekker whistled again. Her teeth flashed as she grinned. Silver followed her gaze across the river. There was something moving among the stalactites. Crouched…or even slithering. Something that matched the blue light and pale silver of the cavern.
The thing across the river purred.
The sound touched Silver to her very core. She got to her feet and moved toward the river without thinking, as though a string tied to her middle pulled her. There was no staying away if she’d wanted to. The need to meet the creature on the other side of the river was far too great. She stepped into the river.
The ice-cold water over her boots slowed her down for only a moment. But that was long enough for Nebekker to grab her arm and hold her in place.
“Of course this would happen.” Nebekker sighed wearily.
“Let me go!” Silver had to get to the other side of the river.
“Stay right here. He’ll come to you. The stars know it’ll affect the both of you.”
In the back of her mind, Silver wondered what the old woman meant, but she didn’t ask because the pull to cross the river was still so powerful.
“I have to…”
She struggled to free herself, but Nebekker was incredibly strong. Just then a shadow slipped into the river with a splash and made its way to Silver and Nebekker. Silver knelt into the water, waiting. She didn’t know what for or if she was in danger. She only knew that she had to open her arms and greet it.
When the creature finally burst from the water, it bowled Silver over. She landed on her back hard, rocks digging into her spine. Her arms and chest became even colder than before, soaking in the river water. But she didn’t care. She was awash with euphoria. Within seconds, the warmth of the creature bled into her skin. Its happy heartbeat thudded in time with Silver’s. It purred again and licked her face until the smell of fish and river weeds overwhelmed her nostrils.
Silver laughed and opened her eyes. A pair of obsidian-dark eyes looked back down at her from a sky-blue face ringed with white.
“Another Aquinder,” Silver marveled. “A little one!”
“If your definition of little means the size of a house.” Nebekker stood over them. Her hands were on her hips and she didn’t seem particularly happy. “Kirja’s son. Another troublemaker, if you ask me.”
“No, he’s perfect.” Silver’s heart swelled nearly to bursting. “And I won’t have you calling him names or else.”
Nebekker snorted. “Or else what?”
“I don’t know what. But I’ll think of something. I’d do anything for…for…what’s his name?”
The water dragon licked Silver some more, then rolled over and let his tongue loll out to the side, just like Kirja had. Silver rubbed his belly.
K.D. Halbrook is an author of Middle Grade and Young Adult novels (as Kristin Halbrook). Her debut Middle Grade book, SMOKE AND MIRRORS (Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books) was called "captivating," "enchanting," and "artful" in trade reviews and, in a starred review, the BCCB said, "The novel's wistful prose and a relatable search for the Light will be rewarding for readers who can see in the Smoke any number of metaphors for the things that haunt us."
K.D.'s next Middle Grade is the first in an exciting series: SILVER BATAL AND THE WATER DRAGON RACES, releasing in June, 2019 from Macmillan/Henry Holt BFYR.
K.D. is a graduate of the University of Washington and lives with her family and floofy goldendoodle in Seattle. When not writing and sharing her love of books with readers, she enjoys cooking and baking, running and triathlon training, yoga, gardening, painting, hiking, and travel. She would love a dragon that swims AND flies.
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