My friend Lauren gave me this book for Christmas, after another friend recommended it to her. This is the first in the Imaginary Veterinarian series and sets things up nicely for other stories to follow. Ben Silverstein has been sent to spend the summer with his grandfather in the small town of Buttonville. The town is slowly dwindling away because the button factory (which supplied most of the jobs), has closed and families are moving into the city for employment opportunities. Ben's grandfather and the other senior citizens seem to make up the majority of the remaining residents. After planning to spend the summer hanging out with his friends and swimming in his pool, Ben is very disappointed to be in Buttonville and have the prospect of spending his days at the Senior Center with the retirees. But things improve when he sees what looks like a dragon flying toward the abandoned factory. Then he meets Pearl Petal, a girl whose family runs the local Dollar Store. Although his grandfather warns him that Pearl is a troublemaker, Ben and Pearl become friends and get involved in the mysterious Worm Hospital that Dr. Woo has opened in the factory. Dr. Woo and her assistant, Mr. Tabby, are new to Buttonville and seem to be involved in more than caring for worms. Ben sees Mr. Tabby at the grocery store with a recipe for making artificial dragon's milk. Since he and Pearl have both seen the dragon flying over town, they can't help their curiosity.
This is fun fantasy for readers who enjoy stories about magical creatures or magical beings who appear in the "normal" world. I'm sure Ben and Pearl will have a summer full of fantastic encounters. At the back of the book are ideas for writing, drawing, and even a recipe for pudding. (After all, Pudding Day is a big event at the Senior Center.) For more information, check out the author's website. Book 2 is already out and the third book in the series is due this month. There is also a trailer provided by illustrator Dan Santat.