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The story is set in the Smokehill National Park, a wildlife preserve for the preservation and study of dragons. The dragons are elusive; evidence of their existence can be found everywhere, but the dragons themselves remain hidden. Young Jake Mendoza, who lives with his father, the owner and director of the park, goes out hiking one day and comes across a dying dragon. The dragon has been fatally injured by a poacher who has breached the security of the wildlife preserve.
The fact that a dragon has killed a human, even a poacher, will make life very complicated for Smokehill National Park, which exists in a tough political climate, due to the controversial nature of keeping dragons alive. But what makes life even more complicated for Jake is that he discovers that the dying dragon had been a mother, and that one of her dragonlets is still alive. It is illegal to save the dragon's life, but Jake, having discovered the baby dragon, cannot leave it to die. He takes the dragon home and raises it.
However, this creates a controversy. The family of the dead poacher want the dragons at Dragonhaven killed. Jake and the other rangers are trying their best to convince those against the preservation of dragons that the creatures are really peaceful and friendly.
The bulk of the story involves Jake's growing relationship with the young dragon, all the responsibilities that come along with caring for an orphaned wild animal, and his own maturation from teen to young adult. The novel is written in a childish style at first, but Jake's writing style matures as he matures.
In the end, Dragonhaven is saved by Jake and his dragon "friends," as they slowly learn how their two species can communicate with each other, in the process proving that dragons are as intelligent as humans and wish to be at peace with them.
Jake Mendoza - main character
Lois - the dragonlet that Jake finds
Martha - a friend of Jake's (marries Jake later on)
Eleanor - Martha's younger sister
Billy - the Head Ranger at Smokehill National Park
Frank Mendoza- the top person at Smokehill Nation Park, runs the whole park
Eric - Jake's "enemy" at Dragonhaven. dislikes jake for unknown reasons.
Snark - Jake's deceased dog
Madeline Mendoza - Jake's deceased mother
Bud and Gulp - two dragson Jake befriends due to Lois
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