The Ice Dragon
by George R. R. Martin
Recommended Age: 9+
Adara is a cold little girl, in more ways than one. This is a matter of heartbreak to her widowed father, a big strong farmer who amazingly bursts into tears when he explains to his brother that his youngest child can never love him. But Adara does love the winter. She loves building ice castles, and playing with the ice lizards (that die when anyone else touches them), and especially the huge ice-dragon who visits her every winter, during a series of increasingly long and deadly cold winters.
Meanwhile, men like Adara’s uncle are riding small, fierce fire-dragons into battle against a neighboring kingdom’s invading army. But the enemy is gaining ground, and finally they push their way as far as Adara’s family farm. It is there that one very little girl and her rare friend make a brave, desperate stand against the invading army’s fire dragons.
This small, simple book, richly illustrated by Yvonne Gilbert, is nevertheless one I would not recommend for very young children. It could be too scary and violent for them. But for somewhat older children, this is a fantasy story of moving lyricism and profound brevity.
EDIT: George R. R. Martin is mostly known for fantasy novels of a higher order, such as A Game of Thrones and A Storm of Swords (part of an at least seven-book series of fantasy novels), though he has also written science fiction (Dying of the Light), a vampire novel (Fevre Dream), and a mystery (The Armageddon Rag).