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Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher
by Bruce Coville
The four “Magic Shop Books” by Bruce Coville are united by certain patterns, almost rituals, such as the hero childs discovery of the mysterious shop where Mr. Elives sells powerful magic objects for pocket change. Another thread that runs through the books is that each child finds just the kind of magic that will help him deal with his own special problem a problem that many of us faced at that age.
In Jennifer Murdleys Toad, Jennifers problem is that she isn’t pretty. In The Monsters Ring, Russell has a problem with anger. And in The Skull of Truth, Charlie is always getting in trouble for telling lies. So at first, Jeremy Thatcher may seem to break from the pattern. Whats his problem? What common ailment ails him? The worst of his problems, at first, is that he doesnt want to be kissed by a very nice girl who has a crush on him. He is small for his age but not badly bullied. He is a talented artist and he has a great family. And, after a while, he doesnt mind being chased by Mary Lou Hutton so much. So why does Jeremy Thatcher need magical help?
Well, perhaps it has something to do with the hateful art teacher who makes Jeremys best subject a nightmare. Perhaps it has to do with the feelings of sadness and loneliness that weigh on Jeremy. Could the scary-wonderful job of helping a baby dragon grow up be a way for Jeremy to deal with childhood depression? It hardly seems so, since the sadness and loneliness is really a result of his adventure. Perhaps in Jeremys case, he was needed to help the magic happen to hatch the baby dragon, to keep it safe, to give it love (and lots of food), and finally, to let it go.
Each of the “Magic Shop Books” has its charms, but this is the one that I personally found most touching. The letting go bit is very hard, you know. It is a sorrow we all have to live with, a wound that never seems to heal. And though Covilles answer to this common childhood problem (and that goes for children of all ages!) is not an easy fix. But it does show that having someone you love in your heart, in your memory, and in your imagination can make the loss more bearable.