A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Handbook for Dragon Slayers is a fast-moving, exciting tale set in the Middle Ages. It includes some scary stuff -- the teens who are the main characters face dangers from murderous knights to supernatural apparitions. It also offers appealing characters who learn and grow as events unfold, as well as their loyal friends, and lots of intriguing bits about historical figures and their stories that will make many kids want to learn more. Many tween girls, in particular, will love the magical horses; thoughtful kids will also recognize issues that are still current today, such as people's casual cruelty to those who are "different."
What's the story?
In medieval Germany, 13-year-old princess Mathilda, born with a deformed foot that causes her subjects to fear and mock her, wishes for nothing more than to go off to a quiet cloister where she can copy manuscripts -- her great skill and passion -- in peace. Fate has other ideas, though, as her wicked cousin who's bent on seizing the kingdom imprisons first her mother and then Mathilda herself. Thanks to her resourceful servant Judith and her friend Parzival, a squire-in-training to a neighboring knight and a would-be dragon slayer, she escapes; the three friends are soon caught up in adventures involving ghostly hunters, magic horses, and quite a few dragons -- not to mention an evil knight who wants to kill Mathilda.
Is it any good?
HANDBOOK FOR DRAGON SLAYERS hits a winning trifecta. It features an exciting plot with appealing characters, including strong girl protagonists; engaging presentation of the medieval period that will make many young readers want to learn more about the history and legends; and magical horses sure to delight many a tween girl. Along the way, it offers insights into the heavy responsibilities of even a 13-year-old princess, the pain caused by thoughtless meanness, and the power of love and kindness.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why stories about dragons have been so popular for many centuries. How does this one compare to others you've read?
How is Mathilda's life as a princess not exactly the fairy-tale experience you might expect? How is she different from other princesses in stories you've read?
What do you know about the period in which this story takes place? How are the characters' lives different from what they would be today?
- Author: Merrie Haskell
- Genre: Adventure
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Princesses, Fairies, Mermaids, and More, Adventures, Friendship, Great Girl Role Models, History, Horses and Farm Animals, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Harper
- Publication date: May 28, 2013
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 336
- Available on: Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: July 13, 2017
Our editors recommend
For kids who love fantasy and strong girls
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