March 2, 2010

Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede

8 of 10: Dealing with Dragons was all you could ask for in a children's fantasy - funny, clever, fast-paced, and a strong, terrific heroine.

This was the book Smalldog proposed last month for Tell Me What to Read. I put it on hold and when I went to pick it up, the librarian at the children's desk (who is everything you could ask for in a children's librarian) said, "Oh, have you read this?" When I replied that I had not, she smiled and said, "You're in for a treat!"

Isn't that what you want to hear when you pick up a book you know nothing about? (Yes, yes, it is).

And she was right - this book was delightful. Just the kind of book I'll be handing to my children to read or possibly reading aloud to them if I can figure out how to pronounce ANY of the names in the book (which is highly doubtful).

The story follows Princess Cimorene (see? how would you pronounce that name?!) who is not particularly interested in the etiquette lessons she's forced to endure. She makes do by convincing various staff to teach her to fence, perform magic, etc, but of course she's always caught and told such pursuits are "not proper."

The final straw comes when she is to be married to a prince who doesn't particularly care for her and whom she thinks, predictably, is a total bore. And so Cimorene runs away, finds herself in a dragon's lair and gets herself hired on as a dragon's princess, responsible mainly for cleaning and cooking and running errands.

Cimorene is delighted and her dragon is very smart and seems to like her a great deal, so this is a good scenario all around, except that princes keep showing up in order to defeat the dragon and rescue Cimorene who is decidedly uninterested in being rescued.

And then it suddenly becomes fairly apparent that the wizards, whom the dragons have an uneasy accord with, are plotting something and Cimorene is determined to find out what it is, whether it's by venturing into the forbidding caves the dragons rule or pretending to be an empty-headed princess when the wizards come snooping around.

And it doesn't take her long to discover that something is definitely afoot.

Oh, this book was so delightful. I keep remembering all the clever things that happened, like the princes who are turned into stone, and the jinn that tries to kill off Cimorene, and the other dragons' princesses who are constantly comparing how many princes have tried to come and rescue them.

I'm determined to read the rest of the series. Even if it's not until my kids are old enough to have me read it outloud to them.

13 comments:

  1. i read this book when i was 12-13, loved it, and immediately devoured the other books in the series. i can assure you i enjoyed the other (i think it's three) books in the series when i read them.

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  2. I've read all of these books several times - the first time when I was in 5th or 6th grade - and I love them so much I can't even stand it. (Searching for Dragons is also delightful beyond belief.) It's funny that you mention the names, because I'm sure I thought they were hard to pronounce at first, but then Cimorene became such a part of me that I can't imagine not knowing her or her name (even though I'm sure other people pronounced her name differently.) I always said Sim-or-reen.

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  3. I would pronounce it Sim-o-rene, too, though this the first time I've seen it.

    This sounds delightful and I am going to try to find it for my 7 year old daughter immediately!

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  4. I always go with my gut instinct with book names, so I would say SIM-oh-reen. But then, I always pronounced "Hermione" as her-mee-OWN until the fourth Harry Potter book, so take that with a grain of salt.

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  5. Glad you liked it! Check out the others in the series, when you get the time. This is one of her first books and her writing improves in later ones (plus the humor just gets better and better!).

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  6. The rest of the books are definitely worth reading too!

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  7. These must not have been in our school or public library, because I've never heard of them. Will have to check for sure.

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  8. I too pronounced it Sim-o-reen in my head, AND Hermione was Her-mee-own until my dad proved to me that I had been mispronouncing it. I thought he was pulling my leg. My mother pronounced it her-mee-oyn, which I think we can all agree is plain wrong.

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  9. I'll have to check this one out! It's funny, right now I have another of her books checked out that the librarian recommended to me - Sorcery and Cecilia. She told me I would love it and she's usually right. :)

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  10. I love the librarian's comments-so often now the children's dept. does not have a knowledgeable person at the desk!

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  12. The first book of a very good friend of mine is coming out in May. While adding it to my goodreads list I was checking out those few people who have had to chance to read it already. How did they read it already?? So I flip to your blog, see the whole ALA thing and start looking at your other reviews. The first review I see happens to be one of my favorite books ever - my "happy place" book. You like my one of my best friends writing (Alyssa Sheinmel, The Beautiful Between) and you liked Dealing with Dragons. I think I'm going to be a new addict to your blog. Thanks.

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