Friday, January 31, 2014

A Literary Appreciation of Dragons 2014 - Part 5 of 5

And so, we've come to the final post – Part 5 of 5 – for the Second Annual Bugs and Bunnies Literary Appreciation of Dragons. If you're new here, or new to the series, clicking on the link above will give you all the details. When you're done, don't forget to come on back to this post and see what's in store for today.

Drawing courtesy of Chez Wheedleton's resident dragon expert:  Lovely Girl

Each book featured in this series 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 appreciate a dragon.

Of the three dragon books we're sharing today, two are fun and full of fabulous illustrations, and one is a treasure trove of dragon myth, legend, and lore:

Serious Trouble
Written and illustrated by Arthur Howard
Ages 4 - 8

Ernest is a boy with a serious-sounding name, the son of serious people – King Olaf and Queen Olive – who expect him (as a future king) to be equally serious. Yet, despite the King and Queen's expectations, young Ernest wishes to be neither serious nor king. In fact, he tells his incredulous parents, he wishes to be...a jester.

One day, when Ernest rushes outside to practice some jokes, he comes face-to-face with the kingdom's serious problem: a fire-breathing, people-eating, three-headed dragon, which makes clear its plans to live up to the people-eating part of its serious reputation. Ernest begs it not to, then manages to escape as the dragon's heads argue amongst themselves. Unfortunately, his escape is brief.

Wrapped inside the dragon's tail and on the verge of being eaten, Ernest proposes a deal to his captor's three heads: If he can make them laugh, he goes free. The dragons decide to give him two chances. Or maybe three. So Ernest gets to work on some serious jestering. But will it be enough to overcome such a very serious predicament?

Written and illustrated by Ursula Vernon
ages 8 - 12

Danny Dragonbreath is a carefree kind of dragon, but he does have a few irritations. The best he's ever been able to manage in the fire-breathing department is a bit of smoke from his nostrils, despite his dad's entreaties to "Think hot thoughts." And he's a daily target for Komodo dragon Big Eddy, who loves to taunt Danny about that lack of fire-breathing ability. But for now, he's facing more pressing problems. His science report on "The Rare and Elusive Snorklebat" – which he totally made up on the 15 minute ride to school that morning – earned him a big, fat, red "F," plus a new assignment: Rewrite the paper. On a real ocean topic. By tomorrow.

Danny's first approach to the problem is to hope for a snow day. But his ever-practical best friend, an iguana named Wendell, points out that's not likely, since it's April. Then Wendell suggests a research trip to the library, which does not go over well. But when Danny's mother suggests a research trip to his sea serpent cousin, Danny agrees wholeheartedly. So, a very excited Danny and a very apprehensive Wendell take the bus to a rickety dock on the Sargasso Sea for a visit with cousin Edward.

Wendell is petrified by the undersea tour, but Danny is thrilled by the creatures they encounter: a barfing sea cucumber, a color-changing octopus, and a snot-shooting vampire squid, to name a few. But when a giant squid comes after them, Danny's thrill turns to fear. Though Edward tries to draw the enormous creature away, the tactic doesn't work, and eventually it wraps its tentacles around Wendell, pulling him towards its giant chomping beak. Danny is beside himself with terror, wracking his brain trying to think of something, anything he could do, to try and save his friend. But what can such a small dragon do against something so big?

Dragons: The Myths, Legends, and Lore
Written by Doug Niles
Foreword by Margaret Weis
Ages: Young adult and up

This book is a nicely organized collection of the history of dragons within various cultures and peoples of the world via their folklore, art, mythology and poetry, beginning from antiquity and continuing all the way up through the fiction, films and games of modern pop culture. Within its pages, the reader will find descriptions and illustrations of various dragon types, as well as retellings of the legends and folklore surrounding specific dragons.

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Here ends our literary dragon fun for the Second Annual Bugs and Bunnies Literary Appreciation of Dragons. We hope you've enjoyed the journey!

Be sure to come back in January 2015, when we'll present a whole new set of dragon books to revel in. And in the meantime, feel free to contact us and let us know of any dragon books you just love that you'd like to see included in next year's celebrations. 

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