Posts Tagged With: dragon

Little Girl’s Dragon Wish Granted

I wish I had been paying attention last week when this story began. Apparently, a seven-year-old girl sent some scientists a letter, hoping that they could make her a live dragon. Needless to say, they couldn’t do it. However, they got a lot of attention by posting her letter and their apology on their blog. Now,  a week later, they’ve reached a compromise: a 3D-printed dragon that may not really breathe fire, but will make an awesome gift nonetheless.

You can take a look at the full story HERE.

If only everyone took children’s requests so seriously–the world would be filled with so much more wonder.

Personally, I’d have wanted MY new dragon a bit bigger…

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Categories: Dragons in the News, Real Dragons | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Christmas Story (Dragon Style)

Merry Christmas from myself and my dragon friends!

Everyone celebrates Christmas with slightly different traditions and beliefs. Your favorite part might be the decorating–the filling of your home with the soft glow of Christmas lights and warm scents of a myriad of Christmas goodies. It might be the big gift exchange that your kids (or you!) have with all the cousins. Maybe you simply love to have your family close at this time of year, or maybe you’re aching because they aren’t there. It snows where you live, or it doesn’t, but whatever the weather is like, you love it for being Christmas.

For myself and millions of other people around the world, Christmas commemorates an event from long before good old Saint Nick entered the scene: the birth of Jesus, who came to show humanity the way back to God. You’ve probably heard the story and seen the manger scenes many a time (if not, you can check out the original story here), but did you know there’s another version of the story–one with a dragon in it?

dragon and woman fighting

William Blake’s depiction of the woman being protected from the dragon in Revelation 12. Image taken from Wikimedia Commons.

The dragon version of the Christmas story is found in the book of Revelation at the end of the Bible–a book that isn’t even read by many Christians because of its confusing prophesies and cryptic language. Whether or not you read, understand, or believe it, it is a beautiful book in some parts, including the the twelfth chapter, which is where our story takes place. This story portrays Israel as the woman, Jesus as the male child, and Satan (the Devil) as the dragon.

The story jumps around a little bit in the chapter, but goes something like this: The dragon and his allies cause a great war in Heaven and are ultimately thrown down to the Earth. The dragon tries to kill the child that will one day mean his doom, but fails in his efforts. When God protects the woman and child from his attacks, he wanders off to harass the rest of humanity until the child grows up to destroy him.

That’s a rough paraphrase. Whatever you believe about God, the Devil, and Christmas, you should read the story for yourself here. The symbolism is lovely–and who doesn’t want to read about a dragon on Christmas?

The dragon loses. We win. Enjoy the story, and enjoy the holiday!

Categories: Biblical Dragons | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dragons Everyone Talks About (3): Record-sized Robot

I meant to finish out my series on dragon news articles with one of the other most regular results, like sports teams or music groups.  However, when I saw an article on a dragon who just made the Guinness Book of World Records 2014, I just had to share.

According to this article by NBC, the dragon in the video above is the world’s largest walking robot. Weighing in at 11 tons, it is 51 feet long with a 40-foot wingspan. It was built to replace an old mechanical dragon in a yearly German folk play.

Way to represent your species in the world record book, dragon!

Categories: Dragons in the News | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Dragon Hoodie: Creepy or Cute?

Every so often, I do a Google News search on the word “dragon” to find out what people are saying about dragons these days. A few topics pop up on a regular basis, and I’ll probably set aside my Dragons for Young People series temporarily (no time to read!) to look at some of those dragons in the news this upcoming week.

The weirdest thing I found tonight was a link to a tech blog article on dragon hoodies. I’ll point you to the original post to see the photos and descriptions, but suffice it to say that you’re about to discover a rather unique design with a choice of black or white-and-rainbow dragon hoodie, complete with wings, ears, spikes, and a tail.

Here they are: http://technabob.com/blog/2013/09/06/dragon-hoodies/

What???

(^That’s my reaction–what’s yours?)

If I were still about fifteen years old, I’d eat it up and wear it. If I saw someone else wearing it on a special occasion, I’d think it was cute in a hilarious way. However, I’d give a funny look to anyone who casually wore it in public, and I’d never wear it myself (at least, not in front of people… wink).  I noted with interest that it’s shown on a female model in both cases, leaving me wondering whether it is specifically marketed to women or if they just decided the female form would sell it to a wider crowd.

Got thoughts?

Categories: Dragons in the News | Tags: , , | 8 Comments

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?

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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!

Categories: Fantasy Fiction, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 9 Comments

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!

Categories: Eastern Tradition | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

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.

Categories: Eastern Tradition | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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