retro friday – dealing with dragons

Friday, February 17, 2012 |
Retro Friday is a weekly meme hosted at Angieville that focuses on reviewing books from the past. These can be old favorites, under-the-radar treasures that deserve more attention, woefully out-of-print books, and so on. Everyone is welcome to participate!

In my early teenage years I was [in]famous for a) reading classics, and b) for trying to find the biggest, fattest books possible. Goal? To find reads that would keep me occupied for more than one afternoon. I read several hefty James Michener sagas that way (Hawaii, anyone?). I also snuck in some fantasy from the local library’s Teen section (now I’d call it a combo of YA & MG).

One of the books I checked out over and over was Patricia C. Wrede’s Dealing with Dragons. Eventually I bought myself a personal copy – my usual practice when I loved a library book enough. Re-reading: my impetus and/or excuse for book hoarding. What’s yours?

Cimorene is everything a princess is not supposed to be: headstrong, tomboyish, smart…and bored. So bored that she runs away to live with a dragon…and finds the family and excitement she's been looking for.

Princess Cimorene is unsatisfied with her life, and she’ll take matters into her own hands to change that. Being a princess doesn’t require being smart, curious and adventurous – all of her best traits. So, she takes some strange advice and finds a world of magic, dragons, wizards and treasure, and guarantees herself freedom from a lifetime of nothing-much.

In retrospect, what was most attractive to me about Dealing with Dragons and its sequels was the combination of humor and top-notch fantasy that Wrede employed. There was a hint of absurdity mixed in with some seriously cool magical hijinks that made these stories compulsively readable.

Well, and of course Cimorene and Kazul (and Morwen!) are fantastic characters. Cimorene is plucky, brave, and a hard-working problem-solver. Kazul is wise and has wonderful taste in princesses and friends. Morwen is witchy, strange, and all around cool. In college I used one of Morwen’s ‘sayings’ outside my dorm room, and made a couple of fantasy-loving friends. Getting to know the rest of the cast of characters never failed to take me out of my own world and on an uncommon adventure.

Recommended for: those who enjoy fantasy full-stop, but especially clever young adult and middle grade fantasy, and fans of Robin McKinley, Diana Wynne Jones and Jessica Day George.

**NOTE: If you're interested in quality middle grade fantasy, check back in March. I'm taking part in Jill at The O.W.L.'s Middle Grade March Madness event, and I'll feature some fabulous recent middle grade releases.


Ryan said...

Thanks to you I own and love this book. I just need to get the rest of the series now.

Charlotte said...

I never read this one--sounds as though I would have loved it back in the day, and should look out for it now!

Cecelia said...

Charlotte: Definitely! It's right up your alley - strong middle grade fantasy. I started reading it AGAIN last night and I still love it.

April (BooksandWine) said...

Patrica Wrede seems like she would totally be my jam -- what with the invocation of Robin McKinley, Diana Wynne Jones, and Jessica Day George.

Also, re-reading is kind of the best reason ever to be a book hoarder. :-D

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