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A long time ago, back in elementary school, we read an excerpt of a story - I don't remember much (and some of the details might be wrong), but I'm hoping the mighty stack community can help me identify it.

From what I remember of the excerpt, the main character was a youngish boy bullied by one or more of his peers, who were possibly slightly older. I don't remember if the boy gets injured or if the bullies just trap him somewhere, but one way or another he ends up missing his class's hatching/pairing ceremony. Just when he thinks he's missed his chance and there are no dragons left for him, he comes face-to-face with a bronze dragon as it's hatching. The story makes a point of stating that bronze dragons are uncommon, and noone expected this boy to be paired with one.

Intuition leads me to believe that it might be part of the Pern series, but I haven't read any of it so I can't confirm. Any insight you can provide would be most appreciated!

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I would guess a Pern story as well, but it has been years since I've read any of them and can't connect it off of memory. –  Xantec May 13 at 19:24
    
Sounds very similar to the How to Train Your Dragon movies/books, but those are fairly recent. I imagine that what you read could have had some effect on the writing of these. –  agweber May 13 at 23:01
    
Just once I'd like to read a story were the bully or at least the top of his class guy that everyone just loves, gets the dragon or whatever the Mcguffin of the story is. Just once. –  TechZen May 14 at 12:01
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up vote 16 down vote accepted

I think this is indeed McCaffrey, specifically The Smallest Dragonboy, which appeared in the anthology "Get Off The Unicorn", and later the entirely Pern focused "Gift of Dragons".

The main character in this story, Keevan, appears in later Pern books as the dragonrider and Weyrleader K'van.

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I do believe that's exactly it! Thanks, this has been bouncing around in my skull for more than a decade! Finally I get to read it again =D –  CodeMoose May 13 at 19:30
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The story left an unusually large impression on me as a child - I'd never read anything like it before. I've also had a few years to strain my memory and try to nail tiny details down haha –  CodeMoose May 13 at 20:08
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@CodeMoose: Be warned, it may not be as good as you remember. –  Beta May 14 at 3:17
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@Beta Such a sad-but-true warning. I remember having that experience with the Golden Compass (or the whole His Dark Materials trilogy). Read it in middle school, thought it was one of the most beautiful stories in the world. Tried to re-read it in college, couldn't get through the first few chapters. Made me sad. Disillusionment sucks. –  Jeff Gohlke May 14 at 3:25
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@JeffGohlke: Ah, but it can work the other way. I lost a treasured book of old fairy tales many years ago, but I could remember some of them well enough to keep my little nieces spellbound. Then recently I discovered the book in an old box-- and found that I had improved them quite a lot. (P.S. your experience with golden Compass sounds like mine with Chronicles of Narnia.) –  Beta May 14 at 3:30
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