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Dragon Rider

Dragon tale is great for bedtime read-aloud.
Parents recommendPopular with kids

What parents need to know

Positive messages

This story is really meant for entertainment, but on a stretch, you could find a subtle message about the encroachment of humans on nature.

Positive role models

One-dimensional characters, and a gentle approach that, while exciting, eschews violence. The villain is all bark and bad temper, most of the characters are helpful and kind.

Violence & scariness
Not applicable
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this is meant for fun, not literary discussion.

What's the story?

In a valley in Scotland the last of the silver dragons hide from the encroachment of humans. But now this last valley is being invaded too. Firedrake, a young dragon, sets out to find the legendary ancestral home of the dragons, the Rim of Heaven, high in the Himalayas, where dragons can be safe and undisturbed forever. Accompanying him are Sorrel, a crabby brownie, and eventually Ben, an orphan, and Twigleg, a homunculus who may be hiding a treacherous secret.

Following a map drawn by a rat, the trio trek across Europe and the Middle East, heading for India. But they are followed by the spies of Nettlebrand, an artificial golden dragon created to destroy all dragons, who also wants to know where the Rim of Heaven lies, so he can finish the task he was created for.

Is it any good?


This book is exciting but not too scary, humorous, with short chapters and plenty of cliffhangers. DRAGON RIDER was actually Cornelia Funke's first book in Germany, but it wasn't offered in English until after the success of her two other books. Despite its excessive length, it's aimed at a younger audience with a simple, straightforward plot, one-dimensional characters, and a gentle approach that, while exciting, eschews violence. The villain is all bark and bad temper, most of the characters are helpful and kind, and the ending is predictable, but satisfying.

It reads like a middle-grade novel -- well, all right, three middle-grade novels. Ambitious young readers will want to read this themselves, but it would be a great extended bedtime read-aloud.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about extinction caused by human encroachment.

Book details

Author:Cornelia Funke
Illustrator:Cornelia Funke
Topics:Magic and fantasy
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Scholastic Inc.
Publication date:October 31, 2004
Number of pages:523

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Adult Written byMamaJamie April 9, 2008

Fantastic adventure for all ages!

I read this book before my son read it, since my son is 7 and I was familiar with the author's other books(they're more for a little older set with some of their themes). I was so entertained by the writing, character development and intricacy of the story that I began reading it to my son. The story is delightful to read with your child and discuss. Here are some of the points we talked about: the characters have ideas about the world that get challenged (initially the main magical creatures don't trust humans), what it means to be a friend (one character betrays our heroes because of his own confusion about what it means to be a friend, but then atones for it later), what it means to be truthful about something you've done that's wrong (same character admits his betrayal to his friends despite his own fear about coming clean), how appearances can be deceiving (something looks dangerous, but isn't)....ok, the list goes on like this. I think they are timely topics and brought forward in not particularly scary ways. I mean, we are talking about fantastic creatures as a metaphor for how humans interact with other humans or with the animal world now. The characters were also easy to relate to for my son. I can also HIGHLY recommend the audiobook of the book performed by actor Brendan Fraser. His narration & voices were amazing! It was so engrossing that my son sat for 4 hours one rainy afternoon and couldn't tear himself away!! (we don't watch tv or do computer games, but this was compelling material for his busy body!) In short, I cannot say enough good things about this book and would recommend it for any kid about 5 or 6 (depending on personality & attention spa since it is quite lengthy) and up. Happy reading!
Parent of a 8, 8, and 12 year old Written bykellyrw June 13, 2011

excellent story

We listened to the audio book, it was excellent. A few scenes are a bit scary, but overall the book is wonderfully written and a fabulous story. Good prevails. I'm wishing for a sequel!
Educator and Parent Written byMark2001 November 14, 2011


What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking