Friday, January 11, 2013

A Literary Appreciation of Dragons - Part 1 of 3

If you've been visiting Bugs and Bunnies for at least the past two years, you may already be familiar with Appreciate a Dragon Day. If you've forgotten, click on the link at the end of that first sentence to get re-familiarized. Then come on back to see what's in store for this year's celebration.

If you're new here, first of all: Welcome! And second: If you didn't already click on the Appreciate a Dragon Day link, here's a brief description of what the day is all about: Celebrated annually on January 16th, the day was created in 2004 by author Donita K. Paul to celebrate the release of her novel DragonSpell (WaterBrook Press, 2004). For the more in-depth description, click on the link in the first paragraph, but don't forget to come back to this one to join in this year's festivities.

Appreciate a Dragon Day is a big hit here at Chez Wheedleton. At least one of us is a very big dragon enthusiast, and we all enjoy celebrating the day. In past years, we've made pipe cleaner dragons. We've made dragon cookies. We've drawn and colored pictures of dragons. We've checked out dragon books from our local library. We've purchased a fair share of dragon books. We've watched dragon movies. We've even ridden more than a few dragon-themed roller coasters.

This year, we're celebrating by sharing some of our favorite dragon books here at Bugs and Bunnies. We've quite a list, so I've broken it into three parts. Part One is right here, right now, with a list of four dragon books that we've loved and that I've reviewed here before. Part Two will post on Monday, January 14, 2013, featuring four more dragon books we've read and loved but that I haven't shared here before. Our celebration will conclude with Part Three, which will post on Tuesday, January 15, featuring the final three dragons books we've read and loved but not yet shared here.

Now that all the explanatory stuff is out of the way:

Let the Dragon Book Revelry begin!
Each book below deals with dragons on its own terms: in some, dragons are central to the story, and in others, less so, but reading any or all of these books is a wonderful and fun way to celebrate Appreciate a Dragon Day:

How to Train Your Dragon
Written and illustrated by Cressida Cowell
Ages 8-12

Hiccup is the son of the Hairy Hooligans' Viking chief, and destined to take over that leadership from his father. But first, he - along with all the other boys his age in the tribe - must successfully complete an important rite of initiation: climb up into the dragon cave, locate the dragon nursery, bag a sleeping juvenile dragon for his lifelong companion, and get out. All without waking up the rest of the hundreds of dragons slumbering there, who will surely pursue the boys and ensure a rather grisly end to their quest. And then, he has to prove his mastery over this dangerous creature by training it. The problem is that Hiccup is not very much like his mighty Viking father, and not very like a typical Viking, for that matter. In fact, the other boys have dubbed him Hiccup the Useless, all except his loyal friend Fishlegs. Can he complete this quest, fulfill his destiny, and earn the respect of the tribe? Or will he end up a charbroiled dragon snack? 

Kenny & the Dragon
Written and illustrated by Tony DiTerlizzi
Ages 8 and up

Kenny is a book-loving rabbit who lives with his farming mother and father. One day, his father bursts in from the sheep field in a panic, announcing that they must pack their things ASAP and light out of there, because he just saw a real, live, dragon! At the top of their very hill! After consulting his borrowed copy of a bestiary, Kenny persuades his parents to let him go check it out. Once he finally meets the dragon, he realizes the bestiary isn't entirely accurate concerning his new friend. But then the townspeople get wind of the dragon, and are so frightened that they prepare to rid themselves of it. Can Kenny show the townspeople that the dragon is not what they think? Or, will he have to make the impossible choice of saving a new friend, or saving an old one? 

The Shamer's Daughter
Written by Lene Kaaberbol
Ages 9-12

Ten-year-old Dina Tonerre has very special eyes, but no one wants to meet them. Even her own friends gradually stop looking directly at her, and don't play with her anymore. She inherited those eyes from her mother, The Shamer. A Shamer is a person with the gift of reading a person's soul, of being able to see everything a person is ashamed of. But as Dina soon learns, it is a gift that is both blessing and curse, and she's not at all sure she wants it. 

Her mother is sentenced to be fed to the dragons because she won't condemn a boy accused of murder - a crime that, after looking into his eyes, she is adamant that he did not commit. Dina is tricked into joining her mother at the castle where she is being held, by the very man who has decided her mother's fate. But when she meets the accused boy, she sees what her mother did - that he is innocent. 

With the help of unlikely allies, Dina embarks on a perilous journey to discover the true killer, and to save her mother and the boy. Along the way, she learns about trust and friendship, and finds the courage to accept who she is.

Dragon's Keep
Written by Janet Lee Carey
Ages 12 and up 

Princess Rosalind longs to be free of her golden gloves, to feel the breeze blow through the fingers of her bare hands. But she cannot. Her mother, Queen Gweneth, forbids it until such time as a cure can be found. For the gloves conceal a terrible secret - one known only to the two of them. If any other in their dragon-plagued kingdom were to discover her flaw, how could Rosalind become Wilde Island's twenty-first queen, and fulfill the wizard Merlin's 600-year-old prophesy?

When the dragon wrenches Rosalind from her home and wings her away to Dragon's Keep, the destiny she has known of all her life - yet never fully understood - unfolds in ways she never saw coming.

* * *

I hope you've enjoyed Part One: Dragon Book Revelry, of the First-Ever Bugs and Bunnies Literary Appreciation of Dragons.  

Please come back on Monday, January 14, 2013, and join us for Part Two: More Dragon Book Revelry

And mark your calendar to return again on Tuesday, January 15, when we present Part Three: Even More Dragon Book Revelry.


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