A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Teaches kids about medieval times, accepting diversity, and fantasy as a genre.
Encourages girls to be independent and self-reliant rather than depending on men to act as their rescuers. The story also stresses the importance of environmental awareness and preserving the woodlands, along with all the creatures that inhabit them.
Positive Role Models
Tess, the 17-year-old heroine, is a self-sufficient, independent girl. She trusts her intuition and is a loyal and loving friend. Although the book is set in the Middle Ages, a time when women generally didn't read or write, Tess learns to do both as a way to escape the requirement of marriage.
Violence & Scariness
This book has disturbing scenes in which women -- who, during the time the book is set, were seen as property belonging to men -- are tortured, burned at the stake, and brutally beaten by their husbands and/or fathers. Some of the violence is fueled by alcohol. Tess is accused of witchcraft and tortured in an effort get her to confes to being a witch.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Some kissing and talk of illegitimate children.
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The word "bastard" is used once.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Tess' father is an alcoholic who becomes extremely violent when he drinks. Other characters casually drink wine and beer.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this Middle Ages-set book has many descriptive scenes in which women are cruelly mistreated. The main character's father beats her so regularly that she's deaf in one ear; it's permanently swollen and shaped like a cauliflower. Witchcraft and evil spells are discussed. People who are accused of being witches are taken to chambers and tortured, burned at the stake, or hung to death.
Is It Any Good?
A medieval fable filled with fairies, dragons, princes, and princesses, this is a wonderful, thought-provoking fairy tale that encourages discussion about diversity and otherness. Dragonswood proves that with faith and education, people can rise above the economic echelon they're born into and find success. The story also stresses the importance of environmental awareness and preserving the woodlands, along with all the creatures that inhabit them.
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.