Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Thomas and the Dragon Queen

Crum, Shutta. 2010. THOMAS AND THE DRAGON QUEEN. Ill. by Lee Wildish. New York: Knopf. ISBN 9780375857034 [Suggested Grade Levels 3-6]

Crum turns the typical quest on its head by sending her knight, the rather diminutive Thomas, off to rescue the Princess Eleanor who has been kidnapped by the evil Dragon Queen. Poor Thomas rides forth on an elderly donkey with no knightly weapons, except a small knife called Starfast which he soon loses. He must try his bravery against various dangers including the “many-headed beast of the lake.” Thomas is not the usual knight in shining armor and must use his problem solving skills and unique personal characteristics to forge ahead to save the princess. He is such a likeable hero that we enjoy rooting for this petite teenager as he earnestly conquers his foes. Moreover, there’s enough action and bravado to satisfy all.

With a large font and lots of white space, the format here is designed for chapter-book readers who are ready for more challenge. That’s not to say that the reading level is easy because it isn’t, what with all of the specialized vocabulary: “castles,” “knights,” and “dragons.” There are lots of full-paged illustrations, even double-spread drawings to assist young readers in figuring out what’s going on, while the chunky size will appeal to those children who want a “thick” book. Even so, it will be hard for adults not to claim this title as an enjoyable read aloud.

Invite children to share how they interact with their siblings. Make a chart illustrating their responsibilities.

Books with unlikely heroes who want to be knights:
Davis, Tony. FUTURE KNIGHT. ISBN 9780385738002
Funke, Cornelia. IGRAINE THE BRAVE. ISBN 9780439903790
Pierce, Tamora. FIRST TEST. ISBN 0679889140

By Cay Geisler

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