Interlude: the Hobbit movies

Right after I started my series on dragon lit for young people, the trailers for the new Hobbit movie came out. I don’t want to wait for that series to wrap up before I briefly mention the trailer, so I’m using this post as an aside on the Hobbit. I’ll get back to the dragon lit later in the week.

Movie teaser poster

Movie teaser poster borrowed from Wikipedia.com

I’m a fan of Tolkien. Admittedly, the only time I’ve read through The Lord of the Rings in its entirety was when I was eleven, but I acknowledge its superiority above the movies (which I watch regularly) and grew up in a Middle-Earth-loving home.  I was first introduced to The Hobbit when my dad read it to me and my sister as a bedtime story when we were young (much like he did with My Father’s Dragon). I loved it, and having enjoyed the LotR movies, I expected great things from Peter Jackson’s take on the prequel.

I didn’t post about the first movie after I went to see it at Christmas because it hadn’t reached the dragon portion of the story yet (Jackson chose to expand the book into a movie trilogy). Even though almost everyone I knew loved the movie, I wasn’t so crazy about it. I didn’t feel like it kept the heart of the story or characters for me, and too many flashy effects common to today’s action/adventure genre were added in. After part one alone, I wasn’t sure if I would be planning on seeing the other two parts.

Enter the trailer for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.

Friend after friend posted the link on Facebook as they practically drooled in excitement, so I took a look. As expected, the trailer hints at more material that isn’t from the book, more added drama and action, and just plain more of everything that made me dislike the first movie. The fact that this is the segment involving giant spiders doesn’t help matters any, either–I may or may not have a bit of a phobia. And then there was Smaug.

Smaug, for those of you who don’t know, is the dragon from the Hobbit movies. He’s big, he likes to destroy villages, and his hoard happens to be the destination of the adventurers. The dragon eye shown at the end of the first Hobbit move is impressive; the scaly CGI creation that chases Bilbo around the second trailer is not. For such a high-budget, reputable production, I was disappointed. Even if they didn’t get the characters “right” according to my picture of the story, how can you go wrong with a dragon? Apparently, Jackson and I have far more differences in our imaginations than I guessed after The Lord of the Rings.

Here is my question for my readers: What about you? Why do you like or dislike what Jackson is doing with the Hobbit story? I have the trailer below, so let me know what you think. Am I alone in my disappointment, or are these movies and this dragon really that far off?

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Dragons for Young People, Part Two: Seraphina

Seraphina book cover

Book cover art borrowed from Wikipedia.com.

Last summer, I read review after review that sang the praises of Rachel Hartman’s debut novel, Seraphina. I finally got my hands on it last month, and it was a great read. Just like my last post, here are the ups and downs:

 

Top 3 Stereotypes

1.       The commoner who falls in with royalty
Recognize this stereotype from Dragon Slippers? It’s back! To be fair, Seraphina is slightly more than a commoner. Her father has worked his way up to become the top expert on the dragon-human treaty, a position that helped him get his daughter into a comfortable job with a famous musician. Still, Seraphina does a lot more than teach the young princess her music lessons. She serves as a friend to the girl, and even befriends (and falls in love with—big surprise there…) the princess’s cousin and intended fiancé, Prince Lucian Kiggs. They trust her enough to let her be a part of the plans that save the day, even after they find out her terrible secret.

2.       The secret that would prove deadly if discovered
Yes, Seraphina has a secret. In a book about a girl with an unbelievable gift in a world where dragons take human form, it’s not too hard to guess what that secret is. In her novel, Hartman uses a common plot device that adds tension to many stories: both humans and dragons would kill Seraphina if the truth came out. She is conveniently stuck in the middle, where young readers will feel for her and desperately want her to be accepted as she is.

3.       The treaty on the verge of collapse
Treaties never work out well in fantasy stories. After all, where would the story be if they did? Seraphina contains the age-old tale of a human-dragon treaty about to go wrong (this is another similarity to Dragon Slippers). As is the case in many dragon tales, humans and dragons don’t get along so well, and there are those on both sides who want war. Naturally, it’s up to a young heroine to jump in and save the day—but that’s another stereotype in and of itself, so I won’t go there.

 

Top 3 Unique Points

1.       Music as a theme
Rachel Hartman worked more complex themes into Seraphina than many writers do when writing fantasy stories for youth.  One of the most beautiful things that she did with Seraphina was to weave the theme of music into the story. From Seraphina’s special talent to the songs of the characters in her mental garden, the book is full of different music styles that enrich both the culture and the storyline in the novel.

2.       A mental garden
When Seraphina first started having strange visions, a distinct set of characters would appear and take turns pulling her into their worlds. She doesn’t figure out who they are until well into the book, yet she manages to organize the mental chaos by arranging her mind’s visitors into an imaginary garden.  Due to the nature of those characters, I found her ability to organize them unique and fascinating. Keeping with the book’s music theme, it almost seems as though she has composed a piece of music where each character must play their part.

3.       Science instead of magic
This is becoming a little more common in books today, but I still appreciated reading a fantasy story that doesn’t assume magic. The morphing of dragons into human forms, the communication devices that dragons use, and the musical machines and masterpieces created by the humans are all scientific in design. If sentient dragons existed in our world, it would not be jarring to find the culture of Seraphina fitting in nicely.

Overall, Seraphina was a great book. It did have its share of stereotypes, but if I had read this book when I was going through my first dragon phase, it would have become a fast favorite. As it is, I’m looking forward to the eventual sequel. I’m hoping the unique story and lovely writing style are just as good in the next installment!

Categories: Children's, Fantasy Literature | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Dragons for Young People, Part One: Dragon Slippers

Dragon Slippers cover image

Image borrowed from Goodreads.com.

This latest blog series all started when a reader recommended Jessica Day George’s Dragon Slippers as one of their favorites. I’d like to say I promptly ran off the library and picked it up, but in reality, it took a couple of months (and the book sat waiting on my dresser until it was all but overdue) before I read it. When I finally got to it, though, it proved a quick, pleasant read. Its sequel now sits waiting much like the first did.  I’ll let its top stereotypes and unique points speak for the rest of it:


Top 3 Stereotypes

1.       The country orphan trying to make her way in the big city

The main character, Creel, grew up with country relatives after her parents died, but now is where so many young fantasy heroes and heroines find themselves: all alone in the big city with not a penny nor a friend to her name. Creel is there intentionally, to chase her dream of eventually opening a shop that features the gorgeous embroidery she learned from her mother. In the meantime, she’s stuck with a harsh mistress and some girls who range from rivals to friends.

2.       The commoner who falls in with royalty

If the first point didn’t already make this obvious, Creel is a nobody, as far as any social system is concerned. She is an orphan, an apprentice that is hardly more than a servant… and yet remarkably quickly, she becomes a friend to the young prince (and an enemy to a young princess). This seems a favorite theme of children’s books—young main characters almost always fall in with people who are more important than the sort that they seem likely to meet.

3.       The coincidental stumbling upon the main plot device

In so many books, there’s no feasible reason for why the main character chances upon the right thing at the right place and time to allow the story to happen. To be fair, some of the best stories in real life do happen when the unlikely happens, but in books, it’s treated like an everyday occurrence. In Dragon Slippers, the dragon slippers themselves are the coincidental plot device. In a huge room full of shoes, Cree finds, chooses, and has the right size feet for the slippers that are an important clue in the human-dragon relations of the story and are so crucial to the plot.

 

Top 3 Unique Points

1. The varied dragon hoards

These dragons don’t just collect valuable things—each has its own perceived treasure. One collects shoes, another dogs, and another stained-glass windows. I loved this aspect of the book. It gave the dragons an opportunity to stand out as quirky individuals instead of stereotypical gold-hoarders.

2.       The idea of being sacrificed to a dragon as a financial aid

Creel’s aunt and uncle, who raised her, are not rich, and so the aunt comes up with a crazy scheme: if they send Creel up into the hills to be caught by a nearby dragon, she can be rescued and married by a rich nobleman and share her new fortunes with her family. The idea is probably unique for good reason (no character in their right mind ought to suggest such a thing!) but the entertainingly awkward situation it creates is a great start to the story.

3.       An intelligent bratty princess

How often is the evil antagonist the same character as the annoyingly spiteful little princess? Not only does the future queen-to-be have a whiny, irrational side, she also has a side that is smart enough to concoct a great deal of trouble. The extend of her scheming was quite surprising, but that’s all I’ll say for now.

Was Dragon Slippers full of stereotypes? Certainly. Did that make it not worth reading? Absolutely not. Some of those stereotypes are used as types that young readers can identify with, and the unique twists that Jessica Day George brought to the story left me smiling and interested in reading the two sequels.

Categories: Children's, Fantasy Literature | Tags: , , , , , | 10 Comments

Dragon Lit for Young People

My first year of teaching is officially over, and I can turn my focus back to my writing (and blogging!) for the summer. In honor of the kids that I won’t see until fall, I’m going to be taking a look at a handful of dragon-related books that were written for children and young adults.

As I have started to read these books over the last few weeks, I’ve been noticing some things that I never noticed when I used to read this genre as a twelve-year-old–namely, the stereotypical characters and plot devices that show up in children’s fantasy.  Is it bad for authors to use them? Probably not–there’s a reason they’re popular enough to reuse. Do they get old fast when I read these fantasy books as a twenty-something? Absolutely. As I present five of these dragon books to you, I will make a list of the top three stereotypes that show up in each book along with the top three unique points. There are a lot of dragon books out there as well as a lot of stereotypes, so you’ll probably see this theme pop up again later this summer with new titles.

Here’s a sneak peek at some of the stereotypes that show up in the children’s fantasy genre:

  • the orphaned nobody who winds up marrying royalty after saving the kingdom
  • the young person with a special gift or a unique bond to dragons
  • the main character who has a bond to the villain that they knew nothing about
  • the mentor who dies
  • the journey to self-discovery or self-acceptance
  • the superior wisdom of a twelve-year-old above dozens of mature adults
  • the youth’s single mistake that makes everything appear lost and hopeless until they learn their lesson–and then, somehow, the situation comes back under control
  • the dragon who needs the help of a young human despite being far older, stronger, and wiser than the youth

The list goes on and on, and my longer list keeps growing. I’d love to hear what stereotypes you would add to this list. Which ones bother you the most? Which ones have you seen repeated in the  most books?

Check back again on Wednesday for my thoughts on the book that got me going on this topic: Dragon Slippers.

Categories: Children's, Fantasy Literature | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

5 Dragons I Never Want to Meet

On Tuesday, I posted a list of five dragons I would love to meet. Not all dragons are cute and cuddly, though, so I thought it wise to follow up with a list of five dragons I never want to meet.

Hungarian Horntail dragon

Image borrowed from the Harry Potter Wiki.

#5: Hungarian Horntail (Harry Potter)—I’m not a huge Harry Potter fan, but I’ll still admit that the Hungarian Horntail isn’t the nicest of creatures. Rowling designed the Horntail to be the nastiest dragon in her wizarding world—and then made poor Harry face one in the fourth book. It’s fast, it’s cranky, and it breathes LOTS of fire, so I think I’ll keep my distance.

 

Mushu image

Image borrowed from the Disney Wiki.

#4: Mushu (Mulan)—Disney fans, please don’t hate me for including this one. I love the movie Mulan, and I know that Mushu is loveable and can grow on you. He’s just so obnoxious! For those of you who aren’t familiar with the movie, Mushu is a lizard-sized dragon that wants to prove his value to a respectable family’s ancestral guardians. He wreaks havoc left and right, yet takes it upon himself to help Mulan survive army life and save China. He’s got a good heart, but I’m not eager to meet a comedic dragon voiced by Eddie Murphy. Let Mulan deal with him.

 

 

Dragonworld book cover

Image borrowed from Amazon.com.

#3: The Darkling (Dragonworld)—This creature is one of the main characters in the book Dragonworld, which I wrote about last year. He is a unique cross between two species, with the cold and foolish heart of the cold drakes combined with the fire and cunning of the near-extinct dragons. His murderous desire for revenge and conquest starts a war between humans and ends innocent lives. I wouldn’t want to cross paths with that much scaly hatred.

 

 

 

 

 

Smaug eye

Image borrowed from the LotR Wiki.

#2: Smaug (The Hobbit)—What child doesn’t tremble with Bilbo as he steals into this dragon’s lair or cheer on Bard the Bowman who faces the monster to save his people? Tolkien’s Smaug is the epitome of the standard evil dragon—greedy treasure guardian, terrible destroyer of kingdoms, and fiery flying foe. I don’t know what Peter Jackson will do with Smaug in the continuing Hobbit film trilogy, but I hope it does justice to the dragon that first showed me that dragons can be scary.

 

#1: Male dragon (Reign of Fire)—This is hands-down the scariest dragon that I’ve ever heard of and could ever hope to avoid. I confessed before that I use Reign of Fire as action junk food despite its lack of quality storyline. Part of what brings me back to such a cheesy film is the relief that I’m not the one struggling to survive in the post apocalyptic territory of the biggest, scariest, most destructive dragon to ever nearly obliterate mankind (try reading that sentence aloud ten times fast!). Size analogy: if the big guy were an eagle, the female dragons (which are your typical giant, destructive monsters) would only be sparrow-sized. No other movie fiend has ever convinced me that bigger is scarier.

Image borrowed from IMDB.

What do you think? Have any of these dragons ever scared you, or are there others that you would argue take the prize for scariest, nastiest, or most obnoxious? Maybe dragons don’t even frighten you—if not, why not?

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5 Dragons I Would Love to Meet

Over at Wyrmflight (see note below!), blogger debyfredericks took on a challenge that is being passed around WordPress right now: list five fictional characters you’d like to meet. Since she writes about dragons, she chose five dragons, and I’ve decided to pick up the theme and share my own top five. There are many classic dragon books that I haven’t yet read, as well as some well-deserving dragons that I’ve probably forgotten, but these are the ones who came to mind.

 
Without further ado, here are five dragons I would love to meet:

Toothless thd Dragon

Toothless, the misnamed dragon. Image borrowed from the How to Train Your Dragon wiki.

#5: Toothless—Hiccup’s beloved Night Fury from the movie How to Train Your Dragon is an obvious choice, and I couldn’t leave him off the list. He’s endearing and adorable, and sometimes I wonder what it would have been like to be the one who discovered, saved, and befriended a creature who had a reputation as a fearsome, unknown enemy. Toothless is anything but fearsome to his friends—I think he looks a little bit like a frog, and his behavior reminds me of an oversized cat.

 

 

 

 

Glaedr image

Cover art of Glaedr from the book Brisingr. Image borrowed from the Inheritance Cycle wiki.

#4: Glaedr—I have a soft spot for the idea of wise old dragons who act as mentors, which is why Glaedr from Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle wins a spot on my list. To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of Paolini’s style and never finished the series. Still, from what I saw in Brisingr, Glaedr has the maturity necessary to help shape the young, rash pair of Saphira and Eragon. His experience, wisdom, and advice are all part of the training they need in order to become the heroes they are destined to be.

 

 

 

 

 

Neverending Story cover

Falkor pictured center. Image borrowed from Wikipedia

#3: Falkor—It wasn’t that long ago that I wrote about the white luckdragon from The Neverending Story, but that should mean that it is no surprise that he makes my list. As I said then, Falkor is the kind of friend that I think everybody needs. He is wise, kind, and helpful, and even more importantly, full of joy and hope. If I ever needed to go on a difficult, discouraging quest, I would want to bring him with me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dragons of Blueland cover

Boris is pictured here with Elmer. Image borrowed from Wikipedia.

#2:Boris—Ever since My Father’s Dragon was read to me as a childhood bedtime story, I’ve wished that the cute baby dragon that Elmer Elevator befriended could be my friend, too. This brave little dragon from Blueland endures captivity, risks a daring escape, willingly helps his friends, and fights to ensure the freedom of his whole family. His family is a bunch I wouldn’t mind meeting, either—they’re all brightly colored and have similarly sweet temperaments. No fire-breathers here!

 

 

 

 

 

There's No Such Thing as a Dragon cover

Here’s what happens when a friendly, scaly, red problem gets bigger. Image borrowed from Amazon.

#1: Billy’s Dragon—I’m not sure what else to call this one. When I was very small, we had a video tape called Merry Mother Goose, with one portion dedicated to a story called “There’s NO Such Thing as a Dragon.” It’s based on a picture book that I haven’t read but really want to find. In the story, little Billy discovers a tiny dragon in his room when he wakes up one morning. He’s not sure where it came from or what to do with it, so he brings it up to his mom. His mother persists in denying the dragon’s existence, insisting that there is NO such thing as a dragon, so the little red animal grows and grows in size until he’s a giant problem that can’t be ignored. The dragon represents what happens when we pretend our problems don’t exist, but he is also an incredibly affectionate creature that, at his smallest size, would make a unique lap pet.  I wanted him when I was five, and I still want him now.

 

 

There’s my list! I would love to hear yours. Let me know if you decide to make a list (dragon or otherwise!) on your own blog. Do you think I left any important dragons out? It’s possible I haven’t read about them yet, in which case I’ll gladly take book and movie recommendations!

Come back on Thursday for my list of five dragons that I would not want to meet.

Note about Wyrmflight: Wyrmflight, the blog where I picked up this idea, is an excellent blog if you’re interested in reading more on various dragon traditions, whether in history or in fantasy. Written for an audience of both children and adults, it’s all about dragons in a way that is very similar to my vision for Dragon’s Crossing. Go check it out!

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Traditions of the Chinese Zodiac: Dragon vs. Snake

Chinese Water Dragon

Last year’s symbol: Chinese Water Dragon. Image from Wikipedia.

If you follow the Chinese calendar or read my previous post, you know that the Year of the Dragon is over and the Year of the Snake has begun. But what’s the difference?  Don’t dragons and snakes (both reptiles!) have similar personalities? Let’s take a look:

The Dragon is known for being gifted, intelligent, arrogant, stubborn, passionate, and ruthless. Many people believe that the Dragon year is a lucky year to be born, since the Dragon is accomplished.

 

Terracotta Zodiac Snake

Terracotta Chinese Zodiac Snake. Image from Wikipedia.

The Snake is known for being materialistic, seductive, and insecure. They are also believed to be creative, intelligent, and obsessive. They make good politicians. Water snakes, associated with 2013, are said to be particularly motivated and influential.

Similarities: Intelligence, relentlessness, motivation, and preference of being alone.

Differences: The Dragon’s confidence, passion, generosity, and temper vs. the Snake’s insecurity, laid-back nature, jealousy, and cool emotions.

As I mentioned last year, I’m not really convinced by the Chinese Zodiac. If I look at it as a fictional invention, it’s a fascinatingly intricate system, with its twelve animals and five elements combining to describe a wide range of personality types. Fiction writers, look no further if you’re looking for character types to flesh out your descriptions of flat characters! As truth, though, the Zodiac doesn’t seem realistic. Not only do the descriptions of my particular Zodiac animal not fully match me, I know many people who were born the same year as I was who are as different from me as night is from day. Think about it—are the people you know who are your age of the same personality as you? Do you believe that all the babies born this year are going to grow into intelligent, seductive loners with major insecurities? It seems like the only traits that fit everyone are the traits that could fit anyone.

To be fair, I would love to hear more from you if you do give the Chinese some credit. I haven’t studied it fully, so if you have a reason to believe that its predictions are significant or a comment on its origins, leave a comment below! Please comment, too, if you know more about the effect, if any, each year’s animal is said to have on the year for those people who were not born that year. Is the Year of the Snake supposed to affect anyone besides the babies born during its time? I haven’t read anything about that angle of these traditions.

This will probably be our last look at the Chinese New Year in the foreseeable future as the calendar moves away from the dragon. In case you’re curious what’s coming next year, it’s… the horse!

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Farewell, dragon; hello, snake.

No, this doesn’t mean that I’m changing the topic of Dragon Crossing.

It means that for those that follow the Chinese calendar, the new year has officially begun. Last year, I blogged about the Year of the Dragon, and what a great time it was to start a dragon-themed blog. As of today, the Year of the Snake is upon us. Last year brought some changes in my life that left my blog silent more often than I wanted, but I’m happy with the start that was made here. Though the Year of the Dragon is over, I have the feeling that Dragon Crossing’s best days are still ahead. Later this week, we’ll compare the dragon to the snake according to the Chinese traditions and find out what personality differences the two cousins have. Happy New Year!

Chinese snake

The Chinese Zodiac changes from the dragon to this guy this year. Image borrowed from Wikimedia Commons.

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And the mystery book* is…

Neverending Story cover art

Falkor, the luckdragon, depicted in the center of the book cover. Image borrowed from Wikipedia.

The Neverending Story.

I first heard the words as a child in a hotel room while my parents flipped channels on the cable TV. My family didn’t get cable at home, so it was only in the already-thrilling setting of a hotel room that I was introduced to Animal Planet, Cartoon Network, and old Disney classics. I don’t remember how old I was when The Neverending Story was briefly flipped on before bed, but I do remember the instant intrigue I felt. A classic tale, a magical book, and a story with no end—I was hooked. It took until this month for me to actually follow through and find the book at the library, but I’ve finally experienced the story that had been calling my name for years.

Have you read, seen, or at least heard of it? It’s a sweet story about a bullied boy who reads the fantasy tale of a world that is literally falling apart—and he, Bastian Balthazar Bux, is the only person who can save it. I have to admit, I enjoyed the half of the book where he was still on the outside looking into the book much more than the person he became upon entering the land of Fantastica, but his journey home again was powerful and touching. The most interesting aspect of the story for me was the idea that there is a link between the human and Fantastican worlds, and only when humans believe in Fantastica can either world be healthy and whole.

There were two “dragons” in the story. The more traditional dragon was invented by Bastian to kidnap a princess so that a noble knight could prove his worth. His role was minimal. Falkor the luckdragon had a much greater part to play.

Luckdragons aren’t exactly what we think of as dragons. I will let Michael Ende, the author, explain in his own words:

“Luckdragons are among the strangest animals in Fantastica. They bear no resemblance to ordinary dragons, which look like loathsome snakes and live in deep caves, diffusing a noxious stench and guarding some real or imaginary treasure…. Luckdragons are creatures of air, warmth, and pure joy. Despite their great size, they are as light as a summer cloud, and consequently need no wings for flying. They swim in the air of heaven as fish swim in water. Seen from the earth, they look like slow lightning flashes. The most amazing thing about them is their song. Their voice sounds like the golden note of a large bell, and when they speak softly the bell seems to be ringing in the distance. Anyone who has heard this sound will remember it as long as he lives and tell his grandchildren about it.” The Neverending Story

Falkor is one of my favorite main characters in the story. Bastian makes too many foolish mistakes for me to love him, and Atreyu (a Fantastican boy who plays a key role in the story) makes too few mistakes. Falkor, on the other hand, is wise, powerful, joyful, and kind–and more convincingly so because he is not a person. He gives helpful advice, is a strong ally in trouble, cheers up those who are discouraged, and above all, holds on to hope. This luckdragon is the kind of friend that we all hope for.

*For those of you who missed my last post, I mentioned a “mystery book” that I had read while sick that I was going to say more about on Thursday. This is that book. Today is no longer Thursday, but some things came up before I finished my post, and I wasn’t able to finish it until today.

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While the Dragon Garden Grows

As a New Year’s present to myself, I bought a mini indoor dragon volcano garden (one of those plastic terrariums designed for kids), complete with dragon decals, black coleus seeds, Venus Fly Trap seeds, and a tiny plastic dragon. About a week into the new year, I stuck the decals to the plastic base and cover, soaked the dirt pellets in water until they turned into finger-coating, seed-starting mud, and carefully tucked the tiny seeds into the dirt. Then, I stuck it in a sunny window and waited.

I’m still waiting–the coleus seeds sprouted within a week, but they haven’t been getting any bigger, and the fly trap plants could take up to six weeks to appear.

I love plants, so it’s hard to be patient. While I wait for my dragon garden to grow, though, I’ve been kept busy: sleeping. Not very impressive, and not very fun, but I’ve been sleeping, sleeping, sleeping because I’ve been sick, sick, sick. They say that your first year of teaching is hardest on your immune system, and they’re not kidding–I’ve been sick five or six times since fall, and no less than twice this month.

Cons of sickness: Symptoms and weakness, losing valuable work time on the hourly portion of my job, and having students fall behind in a class that I really wanted to keep moving.

Pros of sickness: Time to read when I’m too tired to be productive but too awake to sleep. Yes, one of the books I read had dragons in it. No, you don’t get to find out what book it was until Thursday. But may I put in a plug for my favorite non dragon book read recently? That book would be Red Prophet, the second in Orson Scott Card’s Tales of Alvin Maker. I read both this book and Seventh Son, the first book in the series, while sick, and that man can write. In these fantasy books about a not-quite-historical America, where the white man’s charms and spells work and the native man can hear the song of the land, Card shares a compelling story, well-developed characters, and a way with language itself that is beautiful. The only fear I have of reading more is having the series end.

A clue about the book with dragons: It’s a children’s book (maybe YA), one not specifically about dragons, and one that I greatly enjoyed, though I disliked the main character. I’ll say more later in the week, and may even post pictures of where my sorry little planter is at. Meanwhile, I’ll sleep off my sickness while the dragon garden grows.

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