Monday, September 12, 2016

MMGM: Dealing With Dragons

Welcome to my first review for
Marvelous Middle Grade Mondays.

MMGM started way back in 2010 by Shannon Messenger, author of Keeper of Lost Cities. Each week, participating bloggers review our favorite books for ages 8-12. Why not join us by blogging about your favorites?

If you're looking for my weekly bookish quote and bookplate, they've permanently moved to Wednesdays.

Today's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday pick

Dealing With Dragons,
Enchanted Forest Chronicles, book # 1,
First edition cover by Trina Schart Hyman

Dealing With Dragons

Written by Patricia C. Wrede
HMH Books for Young Readers,
originally Harcourt Childrens Books, 1990
Ages 10 and up
240 pages,51000 words

Fantasy, Humor, Challenging Assumptions

       Linderwall was a large kingdom, just east of the Mountains of Morning, where philosophers were highly respected and the number five was fashionable. The knights kept their armor brightly polished mainly for show —it had been centuries since a dragon had come east. There were the usual periodic problems with royal children and uninvited fairy godmothers, but they were always the sort of thing that could be cleared up by finding the proper prince or princess to marry the unfortunate child a few years later. All in all, Linderwall was a very prosperous and pleasant place.
       Cimorene hated it.

In Dealing With Dragons, author Patricia Wrede  challenges the reader to look at traditional fairy tale tropes in a new light. Her book is fun, funny, and thought-provoking as it follows the adventures of Cimorene.

Princess Cimorene is practical, witty, and resourceful, anything but a typical princess. She feels constrained by the expectations of her society and frustrated by the machinations of others. As she fights against stereotypes, she forges a new path for herself, one of her own choosing, despite limiting circumstances. She is a strong character who dares the reader to examine her own beliefs and design her own destiny.

Wrede's humor is clever. She sprinkles the story with anachronistic references and peppers it with hilarious explanations for fairy tale behaviors. Today, the market is littered with twisted fairy tales, but few have the charm or freshness of Patricia's original style.

 1. If you enjoyed Dealing With Dragons, don't miss the other books in the Enchanted Forest Chronicles. Or travel to an alternate history in Patricia's Thirteenth Child, a mix of magic on the American frontier.

2. You might also like A Hidden Magic, by Vivian Vande Velde, a similar tongue-in-cheek remix which features another cover by illustrator Trina Schart Hyman.

Thirteenth Child,
Frontier Magic book #1,
by Patricia Wrede
A Hidden Magic,
by Vivian Vande Velde

3. Plus, I'm giving away a used copy of Calling on Dragons or The Fairy Tale Life of Hans Christian Andersen, your choice. You can enter to win by tweeting a link to this post using the hashtag #MGLit. If you don't have a twitter account, you can leave a comment below.

Win a copy of Patricia's
Calling on Dragons
This book by Eva Moore,
art by Trina Schart Hyman

A Winner will be drawn and notified September 19. Thanks for reading, and good luck.

4. Check out all the recommended titles for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday
for Monday, September 12, 2016 available on Shannon Messenger's blog. 

If you want to join MMGM, blog about a middle grade book you love on a Monday. You can post a straight review or contests, author interviews, etc. Then email Shannon Messenger at

Put "MMGM" or "Marvelous Middle Grade Monday" in the subject line, include the title of the book you're featuring, and a link to your blog. Email your link by Sunday evening in order to be included in the list of links for the coming Monday.

For additional details, see Shannon's website.


  1. I hadn't heard of this one so thanks for your review. Also... Welcome to MMGM.

    1. Thanks so much! I've introduced plenty of kids to this series and it's always a hit.

  2. This sounds like a fun & unconventional princess story! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    1. It was the first book I read that didn't take the fairy tale world seriously . . . that was over 25 years ago. Now twisted fairy tales are practically their own genre! Thanks for reading.

  3. This sounds like a fun & unconventional princess story! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  4. The author is before her time (1990) with this unusual princess and dragon tale. Glad I read your review!

    1. Both Cimorene and the dragon Kazul are smart, independent females, but they don't feel forced or preachy, which I appreciated then as now.

  5. So glad to hear Princess Cimorene isn't a typical princess! I remember shelving these books in the bookstore but never read one. How interesting that Wrede was writing twisted fairy tales before anyone else.

    1. I still love traditional fairy tales, but it's nice that this kind of practical princess is almost the new norm. Thanks for stopping by!

  6. The cover is absolutely beautiful--and I love fractured fairy tales. I normally don't like dragon books too much, but the unconventional princess has me intrigued. Thanks for featuring this!

    1. Thanks. This dragon isn't like the ones in Jane Yolen's or Chris d'Lacey's books. Certainly not Eragon or Pern. The closest comp I can think of is Jessica Day George's Dragon Slippers series. I'd start with A Hidden Magic, and if you like that, try this series. Have fun!

  7. Welcome to MMGM! This book sounds great! I'm definitely going to try this!

    1. Thank-you. I am so impressed with everyone's blogs. My library list is fulling up faster than ever!

  8. I love Patricia Wrede! And A Hidden Magic is one of my favourite stories. (Also, Trina Schart Hyman is a fantastic artist!)

    1. Trina was always my hero. I discovered her back in the pages of Cricket Magazine in the 70s. Good luck in the drawing.

  9. Hadn't realized this came out so long ago. It was a big favorite when my daughter was in middle school ten years ago, and continues to be popular. I, too, remember Hyman from Cricket! Loved it when that came in the mail.

    1. I hadn't read it in years, but can truthfully say it is a timeless piece of writing. And Trina's art . . . Well, there'll never be another like her. Thanks for commenting. BTW, I love your reviews!

  10. Hadn't realized this came out so long ago. It was a big favorite when my daughter was in middle school ten years ago, and continues to be popular. I, too, remember Hyman from Cricket! Loved it when that came in the mail.


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