is a children's novel by
, published in
George Chapman accidentally damages a stone dragon at the Natural History
Museum, he is plunged into an alternate London where the
statues are alive.
The novel was shortlisted for the Branford Boase Award
and longlisted for
the Guardian Children's Fiction
. It has also been nominated for the Carnegie Medal
Responses to the book were mixed. Several critics praised the
central concept, calling it an "intriguing premise" and an
"ingenious idea". The Scotsman
said the book was "thrilling stuff", and The Times
was highly positive, describing it
as "intelligently and elegantly written, with pace and suspense,
varied and convincing dialogue, and big themes of loyalty,
sacrifice and emotional growth." However some reviewers felt that
it was "tedious and longer than necessary" and that the "the
execution is flat". In particular, Kirkus Reviews
criticised the action for
being "disappointingly dry" and Publishers Weekly
said it had a
"protagonist who doesn't ring true."
The film rights were purchased by Paramount
months before the book was even
is succeeded by its sequels Ironhand
After getting in trouble on a school trip to the Natural History
Museum, George takes off in a huff and accidentally breaks off the
head of a stone dragon on the side of a wall. This sets off a stone
pterodactyl literally peeling it self off the top of the building
and following George. As George runs away he sees three stone
salamanders too chasing him. During the chase, George bumps into
the Gunner, a statue of a World War I soldier who helps him escape
the pterodactyl and salamanders. He explains to George that by
breaking the stone dragon,he has entered a different world - an
un-london - where statues move and talk. The statues that are
models of humans have the spirit of that particular person inside
of them, enabling them to talk. Being the 'spitting image' of that
person, they are called 'spits'. The animal and other creature
statues(such as the pterodactyl and the salamanders) have no spirit
inside them so cannot talk. They are called taints. There are many
worlds and the world George has entered is one where all the
statues and sculptures and spits and taints are at war with each
- the protagonist, whose adventures
the story follows. Branded a 'maker' during a battle with the
Temple Bar Dragon
- one of the thought to be extinct
'glints', met early on in the book, who reluctantly befriends
- The antagonist of the book. Cursed
and now a servant of the stone, he is unable to keep still.
- the first 'spit' George meets in the
- Met near Cleopatra's Needle. Being
half lion and half woman, there is some confusion as to whether
they are spits or taints.
- the statue of the first man
to write down all English words and their definition. Prone to
muscle spasms and fidgeting behaviour.
The Black Friar
- enigmatic spit whose true
allegiances are unknown.
The 5th spit George Chapman meets. The
Fusilier saves George from the Gridman.
The Grid Man
- a metal sculpture separated into a
grid, he moves part by part, just out of sync. Although a humanoid
shape, it is classfied as a taint.
- captures Edie but is killed by the
plastilene bullet that George makes.
- named by George, lives on St Pancras and
originally an enemy though after(in the next book) George uses his
'maker' skills to heal its wing, befriends him and fights by his
Temple Bar Dragon
- the most detailed of all
dragon sculptures. As with Spout, the dragon is against George,
having a big battle with him and scarring his hand, but in the last
book of the series, the Temple Bar Dragon turns over sides because
of his purpose. The purpose of its construction being to defend the
city, it ended up being a major part in battle.
- the first taint that unpeeled
itself from a frieze at the museum and chased George. It was killed
by The Gunner
as with the salamanders.
- three lizardlike statues that are
killed by The Gunner
at the War Memorial.
- George's teacher at the start of
- George's 'babysitter'. Lives in the flat
- Branford Boase Award press release - 2007
- The Guardian Children's Fiction Prize
- The CILIP Carnegie Medal & Kate Greenaway Children's
- Kirkus review, archived at Waterstones.com