Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher
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|Publisher||Aladdin (1992), Harcourt (2007)|
|Media type||Print (Hardcover & Paperback)|
|Preceded by||The Monster's Ring|
|Followed by||Jennifer Murdley's Toad|
Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher is a novel by Bruce Coville and is part of the Magic Shop Books. It was first released in 1991 by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich/Jane Yolen Books, and later was reissued in paperback by Aladdin. Fifteen years later, it was rereleased in by Harcourt in an new edition.
While running away from bullies Freddy and Howard, Jeremy Thatcher wanders into a strange magic shop, where the owner is cranky old man by the name of Elives. Jeremy soon finds what he believes to be a giant marble. After examining it, Jeremy asks the old man how much it is; Elives tells Jeremy that he "doesn't really want" the egg. However, Jeremy persists, persuading the old man to let him hold the egg. When he does, it warms to his touch. Elives then lets him buy the egg for a quarter. He tells Jeremy, "You don't want it, but it wants you." He warns Jeremy to take good care of it.
Jeremy finds his way home and reads the instruction sheet Elives had given him, surprised to find information on hatching a dragon egg, and that he has been chosen to raise the hatching until she is old enough to return to her world. He does not believe at first, but then he hatches the egg in the moonlight, while reciting the poem: "Full moon's light to wake the egg,/Full moon's light to hatch it;/Midsummer Night will crack the world,/But St. John's Day will patch it." He brings the dragon up to his room, and is astonished to find that the instruction sheet had changed to one for feeding and caring for a young dragon.
Though invisible to most people, Jeremy still struggles with raising her and keeping her a secret. But Mary Lou, somebody he hates can see the dragon. He goes to the library and talks to Miss Hyacinth Priest, who gives him some books on dragons, though he discovers nothing very useful. However, when he directly asks her for a book on caring for dragons, she hands him a strange book, amazingly written by Elives himself. On his way back home, he talks to Mary Lou Hutton, much against his will. However, he finds that she has read many of the books he has, they begin to form a friendship. He finds his dragon, and after feeding her chicken livers, Jeremy nicknames her Tiamat, as he is not allowed to know her true given name, and continues to develop better communicative skills with her.
His time at school is growing more and more miserable. Suddenly, after feeling a strong sense of fear and pain, he realizes it is coming from Tiamat, and rushes home to discover Tiamat had shed her skin, and that Grief, the golden retriever, had tried to pick her up with his mouth while she was on the floor. This provoked her to attack the dog, and hurt herself as well. Then, Mary walks in, and gasps - she can see the dragon, and Jeremy momentarily forgets the situation because he is intrigued. However, soon enough, he tells her to leave him alone, and Mary leaves in a huff.
At the Sunday dinner party with the Huttons, Jeremy and Mary glare at each other at first, but quickly grow friendly once more, using the same topic, books. Dinner soon turns into disaster, as Tiamat had escaped from her room, and along with the cats and Grief, wreaks havoc, ruining the dinner. Though nobody blames Jeremy (indeed, Dr. Thatcher was sitting on the floor, laughing), he feels a sense of guilt anyway.
The next day, at school, Tiamat comes, responding to Jeremy's feelings of sadness. As Mr. Kravitz talks about the art contest, Jeremy grows angrier and angrier, as Mr. Kravitz is giving out the details in a very insulting manner. Tiamat, once again responding to his feelings, gets 'revenge', and puts Mr. Kravitz's foot on fire. This prompts the angry man to ban the class from the contest, incurring more guilt in Jeremy.
As he is going home, he finally finds Fat Peter, being tortured by Fred. He rescues the cat, and Tiamat saves him when Fred tries to beat Jeremy up. Tiamat is slightly hurt in the process. When he goes home, he asks his father for some antiseptic salve, and takes some extra for Tiamat. Something strange happens here, as Dr. Thatcher looks in the exact place Tiamat was sitting, and mutters something about being overworked, while rubbing his eyes.
Jeremy finds that he has received a letter from Elives, stating that he must bring Tiamat back to the shop, with all her shed skin and baby teeth and egg shells, on Midsummer Night. His dad informs him that Midsummer Night is on June 23. However, the two have formed a strong bond and Jeremy is saddened when she must return to her world. He moves Tiamat over to a horse stall in his barn, and Mary Lou helps him by bringing in some milk every day. He then goes to face Kravitz. After telling him that he did it, he is a little surprised when Mr. Kravitz does not believe him. He then blurts out, asking Mr. Kravitz if he hates Jeremy. This puts a pause to the man's talk, and slowly, Mr. Kravitz reveals that he does not hate Jeremy, but he is jealous - Jeremy is very talented at art, but has no discipline. Jeremy is very taken back by this, but understands it. He then repeats that he is responsible for the hotfoot, and Kravitz allows all of his class - besides him - to participate in the contest.
He is sad now, but Tiamat lifts his spirits - quite literally, as she introduces the concept of riding to him. He then goes for midnight flights with Tiamat, looking at his hometown from above, and watching her hunt. His doctor notes that he is suffering from general exhaustion, and orders earlier bedtime. Jeremy is happy for an excuse to sleep earlier, so can he have more energy from his midnight flights with Tiamat - though not too many of those are left, he sadly notes.
Soon, the 23rd arrives, and he goes back to the shop. To his surprise, he meets Miss Priest, who seems to be involved in the whole thing. She builds the dragon gate using the pieces Jeremy bought, and when Jeremy tries to help, he accidentally shoves a sharp tooth into his palm. Miss Priest is unconcerned, and points out why - Jeremy's hand is fine, with one thin white line left on his palm. She then shows a similar line on her own palm. She then repeats the poem he had spoken to hatch the egg, albeit with two small but important changes - she says 'All Hallow's Eve', instead of 'St. John's Day', and 'Crack the World' with 'Break your heart'. After an emotional goodbye, Tiamat goes through the gate to her world, and Jeremy leaves the shop through the side door.
Jeremy is now very disheartened at his loss, and shows it in his actions. He watches Specimen as he paints a store window, but reveals he no longer has any urge to draw, which raises concern from his parents. He avoids the library, but he soon receives note from Miss Priest stating that he may keep the book he took out, as it is part of her own private collection, and she wants to give it to him as a gift. He ponders the poem she had said during the Midsummer Ceremony, but doesn't understand it. On Halloween, his parents throw a large party, and Jeremy meets Miss Priest there, to his surprise. While he is resting in the barn, lost in sad thoughts, he views colors in his head, and soon hears Tiamat's voice. He then realizes that he is connected to her mind, and that he can see her world through her eyes and can talk to her telepathically. He is so happy that the next day, he takes out his pencils, and begins to draw.
Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher has gained positive reviews. Kirkus Reviews wrote that it was "A funny, enjoyable, imaginative story whose serious undercurrents lend it unexpected depth." According to Christopher Paolini, it also served as inspiration for his book Eragon, as he had loved the story's dragon-hatching storyline.
- "Barnes and Noble book page". Barnes and Noble. Retrieved 2008-12-10.