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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Dragon Books

The 7 year old has been fascinated with dragons for quite a while now, especially after encountering Smaug last summer as we read The Hobbit together.

The Book of Dragons (Looking Glass Library)
by E.Nesbit
ilustrations by H.R. Millar
foreword by Ruth Stiles Gannett (of My Father's Dragon)

We got introduced to E.Nesbit after we read Edward Eager's Half Magic reviewed for Saffron Tree. Originally published in 1901, The Book of Dragons is a set of eight stories by Edith Nesbit featuring dragons of all sorts, as the title suggests.

Though imaginative and wondrous, some stories are quite tame and funny while others are rather fierce and scary. Almost all of them involve some kind of adventure, either warm and fuzzy and fun or arduous and perilous and overwhelming.

The resident dragonophile enjoyed all 8 stories and the illustrations, which are charming drawings. Uncle James, or The Purple Stranger was a top favorite, followed by The Island of the Nine Whirlpools and Ice Dragon, or Do As You Are Told.

Thanks to Project Gutenberg, the book is available via their Online Reader.

[image source:]

Fearsome Monsters from Myth and Fiction
A Scholastic book

Awesome illustrations in a double-page spread, with concise information about various mythological dragons from around the world, makes this a fascinating book for the young dragon-lover.

From Krak's Dragon in Poland to Orochi in Japan, Wyvern in England to Futs-Lung in China, Hatuibwari in the Solomon Islands to Ladon in the Canary Islands... each dragon is introduced to us with precise description about how to identify them - head/neck/claws/tail/wings/color, along with their history/legend and other tidbits. Even the (in)famous Hungarian Horntail (from Harry Potter), Smaug from The Hobbit, and St.George's dragon are featured in this book.

The text is simple enough, with a large full color illustration of each beast, plus an inset map of where in the world it was, and a small illustration to show its relative size compared to Man.

The Introduction states that dragon stories are dismissed by experts as myth and legends even though there are dragon encounters/drawings by notables such as Marco Polo and Leonardo da Vinci. The book adds, "In a world where it seems everything has been researched and cataloged thoroughly, the dragon remains freshly elusive."

Note: The images can be disturbing for the very young who are uninitiated in the dragon lore.

[image source: personal photo]

The Complete Book of Dragons (Ologies series)
by Ernest Drake/Dugald Steer

"Faux Nonfiction" or "Mock Nonfiction" volumes (terms I just learned) are becoming quite the trend these days.

Much like How To Find Flower Fairies book that has been quite an obsession with the little girl for the past couple of years, this Dragonology book is becoming the latest obsession.

She believes in dragons. I think that is what matters for this book to resonate with the reader.

All the little flaps and envelopes and notes and dragon scales and little novelties are quite the rage with her now. Just as in Encyclopedia Mythologica, she loves the fold-outs and mini booklets and such. The sample dragon dust and wing membrane; the Dragon Script; the Riddles & Puzzles all add to the whole dragon experience.

Of particular fascination is the Useful Spells & Charms Section. While all of her understands that spells are ineffective in our real world, some part of her likes to indulge her imagination. First spell she'd like to try: Hong Wei Invisibility Spell. Of course, as of now, we are missing a few key ingredients to make the spell work, but, anything can happen...

Dragon Script is soon becoming the encryption code of choice, replacing the Jewel Fish of Karnak's code.

[image source: personal photo]

How to Train You Dragon by Cressida Cowell didn't make a suitable impression on the young mind as I had hoped after reading the reviews about it and bringing the first book in the series home from the library... maybe we'll give it another try down the road.

[More books at A Celebration of Dragons in Children's Literature at Saffron Tree]

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At 5:33 PM, Blogger sandhya said...

We have read a wonderful book called Dragonkeeper by Carole Wilkinson, an Australian author. This is a whole series of books on the background of ancient China. The kid is hooked, and we are tackling the entire series now. It is at the level of 10+, so maybe it will work as a read-aloud for you.

At 8:39 AM, Blogger Namrata said...

Nice round-up Sheels.
Try Cornelia Funke's Dragon Rider next.

The Cressida Cowell series was a hit with my FB, she was maybe 9-ish then. So yes maybe a couple of years later it might work. We also watched the movie - nice but as usual different from the book. Younger one has gone bad to Rainbow Fairies *rolls eyes* and will not have anything else, but someday she might pick them up.

At 8:47 AM, Blogger Sheela said...

Thanks, Sandhya! Will check out Dragonkeeper soon. I am so glad I can derive from your wisdom :)

Thanks, Namrata! Will check out Cornelia Funke - I remember reading her Inkheart series (to myself, not the kid) - first book was good, 2nd and 3rd sort of got tedious... keep your recos coming, we haven't even scratched the surface yet at home...


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