THE RUNAWAY PRINCESS

A delicious princess romp down the well-worn path first paved by The Practical Princess and followed by spunky royal girls ever since. Princess Margaret—Meg—is not at all interested in being bargained away with half the kingdom. She wants to save the dragon, warn the witch and rescue the bandits, while her father wants a gaggle of princes to vanquish them all in the name of economic development. A lot of tropes get stood on their heads here: Meg is imprisoned in a tower, for example, but doesn’t take long to wriggle out of it; alert readers will catch references to everything from The Wizard of Oz to Monty Python. Meg bonds with the dragon (only a baby), gets help from the witch (who has turned a great number of princes into frogs) and, assisted by her loyal friends Cam the gardener and Dilly the housemaid, bests a supercilious prince. The bandits, by the way, are led by a woman, and her handsome brother does a pretty good impersonation of a prince. The language is witty and tart and funny, the pace is quick and, in the end, Meg gets to study not only administration and diplomacy, but magic and swordplay. (Fiction. 9-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 2006

ISBN: 0-374-35546-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2006

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HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON

Facing sneering peers, plus a cave full of vicious young dragons and two mountainous, malign adult ones, brings an ordinary Viking lad around to becoming a “Hero the Hard Way” in this farcical import. Dispatched to capture and train some breed of dragon as a rite of passage into the Hairy Hooligan Tribe, unprepossessing Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III returns not with a mighty Gronkle, or an aptly named Monstrous Nightmare, but a shrimpy creature laughingly dubbed “Toothless”—who also turns out to be about as trainable as a cat, with an attitude to match. But Hiccup and Toothless develop into a doughty team when two humongous, fire-breathing Sea Dragons pull up to shore, looking for the odd village or army to devour. Cowell adds lots of jagged, William Steig–like sketches to a narrative rich in dragon muck, cartoon violence, and characters with names like Snotlout and Dogsbreath the Duhbrain. Her genuinely fierce, intelligent, and scary dragons nearly steal the show, but Hiccup and his diminutive sidekick ultimately come out on top, both displaying a proper hero’s mix of quick wit, courage, and loyalty. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: May 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-316-73737-2

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2004

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KENNY & THE DRAGON

Reports of children requesting rewrites of The Reluctant Dragon are rare at best, but this new version may be pleasing to young or adult readers less attuned to the pleasures of literary period pieces. Along with modernizing the language—“Hmf! This Beowulf fellow had a severe anger management problem”—DiTerlizzi dials down the original’s violence. The red-blooded Boy is transformed into a pacifistic bunny named Kenny, St. George is just George the badger, a retired knight who owns a bookstore, and there is no actual spearing (or, for that matter, references to the annoyed knight’s “Oriental language”) in the climactic show-fight with the friendly, crème-brulée-loving dragon Grahame. In look and spirit, the author’s finely detailed drawings of animals in human dress are more in the style of Lynn Munsinger than, for instance, Ernest Shepard or Michael Hague. They do, however, nicely reflect the bright, informal tone of the text. A readable, if denatured, rendition of a faded classic. (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Aug. 5, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-4169-3977-1

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2008

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