A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that there is little of concern here. There's some mild fighting and jousting, but no one is seriously hurt. This is lighthearted fantasy, mostly played for laughs, in which even the dragons just want to be left alone to live their lives.
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What's the story?
Though Igraine's parents and brother, Albert, are all sorcerers, Igraine wants to be a knight. She practices sword fighting and her parents give her a magical suit of armor, but she longs for adventure. When her family castle is attacked by Osmund the Greedy, who wants the famous Singing Books of Magic that have been in her family for years, she may get more adventure than she bargained for.
Just before the attack, Igraine's parents accidentally turn themselves into pigs. To restore them in time to defend the castle, Igraine must ride into the mountains to find a giant and bring back some of his hair for the counter-spell. Along the way she'll not only have to deal with giants, but also a dragon and a sorrowful knight.
Is it any good?
There's never a moment when the outcome is in doubt, little suspense, no real difficulties that Igraine's family must fight their way through -- and it's surprising how delightful this can be. Popular German author Cornelia Funke seems to write two types of fantasy -- the intense, edgy kind, typified by her Inkheart series, and a lighter, more playful kind, better suited to younger kids, such as Dragon Rider -- and IGRAINE THE BRAVE belongs to the second category.
Igraine's parents and brother have a wonderfully blithe, blasé attitude to the worst their enemies can throw at them, which is reassuring to young readers and allows them to enjoy the humor without worrying about what terrible thing might happen.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about an (apparently unintentional) ethical double standard in the story: Much is made of the unfairness of a knight who uses an enchanted spear, yet Igraine is given an enchanted suit of armor and no one thinks that's a problem. Do you agree? If so, what's the difference? Does her armor fit within the code of chivalry presented in the book? If so, then what's wrong with the enchanted spear?