[D] Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede

4 Apr

Patricia C. Wrede was probably one of the first authors whose name I remembered as a child. I remember reading and loving Dealing with Dragons in what must have been 3rd or 4th grade, when the first Scholastic paperback version came out.

After reading it once, I lost it and didn’t find it again until 6th grade, when I carefully taped in a bookplate so that I would never lose it again. There was no point, though, since I never loaned it out to anyone because I was so afraid I would never see it again.

I read it over and over that year, and then at least once a year after that until I went to college. I distinctly remember looking up the definition of the word “disposition” from this book and actually remembering it because I had read it so many times (as opposed to other words that I looked up and promptly forgot). 

Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede

My beat-up copy of the book. You can't really tell from the picture, but the cover is actually taped on because it fell off after being read too many times.

It was and still is one of my favorite booksand Patricia C. Wrede is still one of my favorite authors (I read her blog every week). I had mentioned in an earlier post that I love fairy tale retellings. For Dealing with Dragons and the rest of The Enchanted Forest Chronicles (the name of the quartet), Wrede manages to put in lots of references to fairy tales from “The Frog Prince” to “Sleeping Beauty.” And that’s just in the first chapter.

But what I really love about this book is that the main character, Cimorene, is not a typical princess or a typical heroine. She’s smart, practical, and funny, and she was probably one of my earliest role models (although I didn’t notice at the time). Plus, she wasn’t Asian, but she had black hair in a time when all the other girls I read about had blond or brown hair.

This was the first book I thought of when my boss asked me to do a book club with my (then 4th/5th grade) students. The girls loved it, and the boys were okay reading it, but the biggest problem in teaching the book was the vocabulary. I was at the stage where I was encouraging my students to look up all the words they didn’t know, and Wrede does not write down to kids. I had one overachieving student come in with over a hundred vocabulary words (and sentences!) one week. I love this book, but I would probably not choose to teach it again.

I will recommend it (and its sequels) to any girl that comes my way, though. Pre-teen (and up) girls might also like Wrede’s Regency fantasy books: Mairelon the Magician and The Magician’s Apprentice (now reprinted together as A Matter of Magic) and The Sorcery and Cecelia series by Wrede and Caroline Stevermer.

This post is my Blogging from A to Z entry for the letter D. 


7 Responses to “[D] Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede”

  1. Fran@ Broken Cookies Don't Count April 4, 2012 at 3:56 am #

    Hi Nita! I wasn’t familiar with this author, but the book sounds wonderful and I love your dedication to it. I also love that you shared a real photo of the book you’re talking about. It surely looks like it was loved!! Happy Challenge!

    • nita April 4, 2012 at 9:37 am #

      Thanks, Fran! Happy Challenge to you, too! This was the first letter that got decided on my list. I have actually bought new copies of it for people instead of lending it out because my copy is so fragile.

  2. blissflower1969 April 4, 2012 at 6:22 am #

    I’ll have to recommend this book to my daughter. Sounds like something right up her alley. And I really appreciate YA authors who don’t “dumb down” their language just because they are writing for kids. I believe most kids will rise to meet the challenges, especially if the stories are engaging and the characters are interesting and relatable.
    Thanks for sharing!

    • nita April 4, 2012 at 9:33 am #

      Yeah, I’m trying to teach my kids to figure out vocabulary words in context now. Most kids can do it at least half the time, and not knowing the words usually doesn’t hamper their enjoyment of the story. Then, if they get a chance to re-read it when they know more words, they’ll discover something new.

      I tend to skim, too, so between that and the vocabulary, I think I learned something new about Dealing with Dragons almost every time I read it until about college.

      I hope your daughter enjoys the book!

  3. David M. Brown April 4, 2012 at 9:43 am #

    I love to read and write fantasy and am always looking out for new authors to try. This book looks like it’s worth reading. Thank you for sharing one of your favourite reads and well done on keeping the cover on as well!

    Good luck with the rest of the challenge 🙂

    • nita April 4, 2012 at 10:08 am #

      Thanks for stopping by, David! It’s a great book. I hope you enjoy it, too!


  1. Book List « nita's books - December 11, 2012

    […] Project Mulberry by Linda Sue Park Masterpiece by Elise Broach The Lightning Thief* by Rick Riordan Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede The Seven Towers by Patricia C. Wrede Midnight Magic by Avi The Mysterious […]

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