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Plot summary from the book jacket:
Jake lives with his scientist father at the Makepeace Institute of Dragon Studies in Smokehill National Park. Smokehill is home to about two hundred of the few remaining draco australiensis, which is extinct in the wild.
There are five million acres of the Smokehill wilderness, and the dragons rarely show themselves. Jake’s never seen one except deep in the park, and at a distance. But then, on his first overnight solo in the park, he meets a dragon – and she is dying. More than that, she has just given birth, and one of the babies is still alive….
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But even though I was dozing, I was aware that we kept going on and on and on - the sky cleared just in time to see the sun finish setting and then the moon rose, a blazing big full moon, and then it rose up farther and farther over us, and the stars wheeled along with it, and still Bud was flying, no racing, over the landscape. Whatever I pretend to understand about the laws of physics, I doubt that they’re all suspended for the flight of dragons, and I imagine something Bud’s size, to keep flying at all, has to fly at some speed. But it was more than that. Bud was pouring it on. The thrust – the bang - forward of each downbeat of those enormous wings had an almost audible THUNK about it, like feet hitting pavement; when I peered ahead the wind clawed at my eyes. We were on our way to whatever we were on our way toward as fast as Bud could take us. Although I would have had trouble throwing myself into the mouth of almost any other dragon.
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