A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Julia Abe's imaginative reinvention of the Cinderella story is all about being able to study at the Royal Academy, not marrying a prince. Learning and education are highly valued.
Positive Role Models
Cinderella figure Alliana is overworked, underfed, and abused by her stepmother and stepbrother; her stepsister is more thoughtless and airheaded than mean. Despite this, Alliana is both determined and kindhearted, spending long, loving hours working alongside the stepkids' grandmother, who's more or less enslaved by her actual relatives, locked away and put to work doing sewing for paying customers. Her kind impulse to save a baby dragon proves life-changing. Her long-dead parents left her with good values and memories of being loved, and she frequently recalls the example of the legendary (but never seen) Queen Natsumi, who has overcome many hardships. Her friends, magical and otherwise, offer plenty of support and come to the rescue when things are most dire.
Author Julia Abe sets her tale in a Japanese fantasy world, with Japanese-named characters, foods like mochi and natto, and Japanese-style clothing. A character is named after kabocha squash.
Did we miss something on diversity? Suggest an update.
Violence & Scariness
A nasty stepmother and stepbrother abuse, bully, and overwork 11-year-old Alliana. Dragons engage in mortal combat. An orphan learns that her father's death may not have been an accident. A deep, dark crevice has opened in the earth, causing much disruption but also luring tourists hoping to find riches there.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Julie Abe's Alliana, Girl of Dragons is a Cinderella-based tale set in a Japanese fantasy world of royals, dragons, witches, and wizards -- where the goal is not to marry the prince, it's pursuing your education and finding your future at the Royal Academy. Alliana's long-dead father may have been a murder victim, and the death of an old woman who's her surrogate grandmother causes much grief. Alliana herself is underfed, overworked, bullied, guilted, and deprived by her wicked stepmother and stepbrother. But she dreams of a better future, and her kind deeds win her friends, allies, and support -- which, by book's end, seems to have her on a promising path. There's a bit of poop humor, especially from a magic pigeon whose frequent target is Alliana's nasty stepbrother.
Is It Any Good?
Author Julie Abe spins an engaging tale of an abused orphan and the friends who come to her aid -- especially the baby dragon she rescues and an apprentice witch who opens new worlds for her. Set in a Japanese fantasy world of royals, wizards, witches, and magical beings, Alliana, Girl of Dragons is a satisfying, fast-moving Cinderella tale with many hardships to endure, and many rewards for kind deeds. Also plenty of surprises and cheer-worthy moments as the bonds of family and friendship prove quite powerful.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
Suggest an Update
Our Editors Recommend
Fantasy Books for Kids
Books with Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander Characters
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate