Lennoxville’s getting inked! Not one, but two tattoo parlors have opened, so there must be a clientele. Perhaps the good burghers of the borough have been inspired by The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo?
That would be inspired by the ink, not by the plot. The best-selling tome is a fast-paced, violent, crime and revenge novel (some also call it a feminist work; its original Swedish title translates as “men who hate women”). Written by Stieg Larsson, it was published posthumously, and is filed in Adult Fiction, as are two sequels.
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo stars disgraced journalist Mikael Blomkvist and computer whiz Lisbeth Salander (the tattooed gal, who in turn uses a tattoo gun on a tormentor to leave a permanent reminder of her own fury).
In truth, a tattoo is a reflection of the personality or experiences of its canvas. And certainly dragons are popular. The winged fire breathers play a large role in our imaginations.
Yet Western writers seek to tame dragons. The Dragon And The Dry Goods Princess, by David Arnason (1994, in Adult Fiction), features a charming great galoot living in rural Manitoba. The tale’s the first of 18 short fables, whimsically retold for modern times. Although there’s only one real dragon in the book, he’s a memorable draconem: he needs a princess, someone he can lay his head upon and relax into a nap with, daily, from 3 to 5 p.m. But, hey, she’ll get Sundays off. He’s no monster.
Arnason’s other fairy tales include a genie in a Coleman lamp, and a disbarred male physician travelling to B.C. to find a wife. Then there’s the jobless English MA with must cope with endless suitors. She refuses the men her father proposes, but finally agrees to marry the one who successfully answers her riddle.
Meanwhile, author Rachel Hartman creates a medieval world where humans and dragons have signed a peace treaty, one that’s up for renewal after 40 years. The novel Seraphina (2012, in Young Adult Fiction) begins with a murdered human royal, leading to more distrust and even hatred between the species. Only dragons eat the heads of their human victims, and this body was found headless….
The dragons can transmogrify into human form, but tag themselves with bells (like cats in bird-land). Seraphina is a royal court thriller that ends with a romantic conundrum.
Author Naomi Novik presents the Napoleonic Wars with a twist: both sides have dragons. They crack out of eggs and instantly bond with a human, then are trained for aerial warfare against the enemy. Unfortunately, in Temeraire: His Majesty’s Dragon (book 1 in a series, 2006), Captain Will Laurence is a British ship’s captain, a man of the sea, who unexpectedly captures an egg from the French and is himself chosen by the hatchling. He must abandon life as he knows it and accept bondage to a dragon.
The dragon Temeraire is, at least, quite the charmer: a lover of Newton’s mathematics, folk tales, and Latin. As well as crushing the enemy in full flight.
Patricia Wrede’s much-loved Dealing With Dragons (1990, book one of the Enchanted Forest Chronicles, and filed with an orange dot in children’s fiction) stars her own princess, Cimorene. She’s 16 and bored out of her mind.
Cimorene runs away and offers herself to a dragon, as a servant. Kazul takes her on, and expects the library to be kept clean and endless cherries jubilee for dessert. And also, could Cimorene save the dragon kingdom from evil? That would be perfect. Here’s a book that deserves a new generation’s attention.
Now another older tome: The Dragons Of Blueland is the last in a series of three by Ruth Styles Gannet (filed with a yellow dot, suggested ages 6 to 9). It has been continuously in print since its first appearance in 1951.
Elmer Elevator is nine years old and rescued a dragon named Boris from wild animals (in My Father’s Dragon), and the two become fast friends (see Elmer And The Dragon). But by book three, Boris must return home to his own family. Except there’s trouble, and he needs Elmer to help sort it out!
All this while Boris avoids other humans, who think he’s a horrible demon who must be destroyed.
But let’s start those children young on dragon love! Really young. No Dragons For Tea: Fire Safety For Kids (And Dragons) (words by Jean F. Pendziwol, pictures by Martine Gourbault, 1999, blue dot [ages 3 to 6]), begins with a little girl inviting her new friend to tea. Unfortunately, the snack includes a shot of pepper.
Then the dragon’s nose twitched,
And he started to wheeze,
His eyes misted up, and he blew a great sneeze.
And draco promptly sets the house on fire. This is followed by a call to the firefighters and pointers on how to get out of a burning home.
The next play date is a picnic. It’s much more successful.
Dragons are a lovely bunch of coconuts.
– Eleanor Brown, December 6, 2013