Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Here be Dragons! A ReadItDaddy Special Feature

"The (In)Complete Book of Dragons (How to Train your Dragon Series) by Cressida Cowell (Hodder Children's Books). Dazzlingly brilliant!"

"So remind me again, why do you love Dragons so much, Charlotte?"

"Because they're magical, and can fly and if you annoy them they can burn you to a crisp!"

We've been talking about running a few special features on the blog, similar to the weekly themes we ran when we did a year long campaign encouraging parents to read to their children more (ReadItMummiesandDaddies).

Dragons have never been very far from our bookshelves in one form or another. Now Charlotte's old enough to enjoy Cressida Cowell's phenomenally brilliant "How to Train your Dragon" she's busily tucking into Book 1, and learning all about The Isle of Berk, Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the fearless dragon chronicler and of course his trusty friend Toothless the not-quite-scary-but-could-give-you-a-nasty-nip teeny tiny baby dragon that Hiccup saves rather than slays.

How to Train your Dragon (Book 1) by Cressida Cowell and Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III (Hodder Children's Books)
Cressida's books are now huge movie hits too, but we truly love the original stories and what's more, we REALLY love Cressida's original illustrations - particularly in "The (In)complete Book of Dragons" where all of dragonkind's secrets are laid bare for would-be dragon hunters and trainers the world over.

More dazzling dragons, this time in a gloriously illustrated and sumptuously presented bestiary...

"Secrets of the Dragon World - Curiosities, Legend and Lore" by S.A. Caldwell (Carlton Books)

As you can see from the dragon leaping out of the front cover, S.A. Caldwell's "Secrets of the Dragon World - Curiosities, Legend and Lore" from Carlton Books is a real feast for the eyes. All aspects of the dragon world are put under the microscope, fully immersing you in dragon lore and examining dozens of different species of dragons, their taxonomy, physiology and characteristics. Mixing together fantastic digital illustrations with beautiful pencil sketches and stunning renders, "Secrets of the Dragon World" is utterly amazing. We particularly loved seeing all the different dragon eggs and the dazzling colours and designs on them. A book to sprawl out on the floor with and really dig into.

For younger readers, there's plenty more fun to be had...

"Marmaduke the Very Different Dragon" by Rachel Valentine and Ed Eaves (Bloomsbury Publishing)

"Marmaduke the Very Different Dragon" by Rachel Valentine, with fantastic illustrations by Ed Eaves, really is the tale of a very unique little fellow. Marmaduke was born different to his brothers and sisters - where they're all scaly and loud, Marmaduke has big ears and sparkling orange skin - and despite having a huge pair of wings Marmaduke seems reluctant to try them out, to fly like his siblings.

Poor Marmaduke is quite forlorn, but when he meets a very different princess, perhaps the two can become firm friends and perhaps Marmaduke's 'differences' can be the making of them both.

We really love Marmaduke and we really really love Meg, the princess who prefers baseball boots and messy hair to prim and proper dresses.

Sticking with books for younger readers, this tale of motherly love and...penguins really made us sit up and take notice...

"Dragon loves Penguin" by Debi Gliori (Bloomsbury Publishing). Have tissues ready, this will make you cry!

In "Dragon Loves Penguin' by Debi Gliori, a mother dragon adopts an abandoned egg. When it hatches, the "baby dragon" inside really does look quite...strange. Flippers, a beak, slick feathers - in fact the baby dragon looks an awful lot like a penguin. As a bedtime story unfolds, we learn how a mother's love is strong enough to look beyond the differences, and is offered unconditionally. With tense excitement, and a tear-jerking end, this is such a brilliant and original dragon (and penguin) book that we really couldn't miss it off our list.

Moving back to early chapter book readers now, here's book one in a new and exciting series from an author we're colossal fans of here at ReadItDaddy...

"The Secret Rescuers - The Storm Dragon" by Paula Harrison, illustrated by Sophy Williams (Nosy Crow) - "Her best book yet!" said a young reviewer - and we definitely can't argue with that!

"The Secret Rescuers - The Storm Dragon" (The Secret Rescuers Book 1) by Paula Harrison, with illustrations by Sophy Williams, is the very first book in a new and exciting mythical magical series from the creator of the awesome "Rescue Princesses" series.

Paula's books have helped Charlotte make the transition between picture books and early chapter readers, with a combination of fantastic characters, exciting stories and an all important dose of magic and mystery.

Though we may seem slightly biased about this one (after all, Paula very kindly dedicated this book to Charlotte - which really completely blew our socks off with excitement - I think Charlotte ran around the house squealing with glee for a solid hour or more), we think it is her best book yet and it's really captured Charlotte's imagination (and is quite a large part of why we chose dragons as our first special feature review roundup).

"The Storm Dragon" is the story of a young girl, Sophie, who is a maid at a palace in a magical kingdom. One day a small dragon literally crashes in on Sophie's world, and changes everything forever. Sophie discovers that not only can she communicate with and understand the dragon, but must undertake a perilous quest to return the shy beast to its family and save the all the mythical creatures in the land from the nefarious bad egg Sir Fitzroy.

Sophie will meet new friends and foes on her journey but book one is just the start of her amazing adventures (Book 2 will be coming along in October so keep an eye out for "The Sky Unicorn" in the Autumn).

You've got to love any book that is so good that your little readers won't turn out their reading lamps until they've reached the end of each chapter. A great book to wrap up our first special feature, and if you have any suggestions of subjects or story types you'd like us to feature next, we're all (dragon) ears! ROAR!

Hungry for more? You can find all our reviews featuring dragons and other demons here!

Also - if you're on the lookout for more dragon-ey inspiration, do NOT miss Minerva Reads as she gives us even more brilliant book recommendations for National Share a Story Month - minervareads.com/national-share…

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