Written by: Patricia C. Wrede
For parents of independent readers, we provide a set of questions that should give you insight into what your child is reading and help you engage him/her in meaningful conversations about literature. We recommend using the questions provided here as a springboard for deeper conversation about Dealing With Dragons and what your child takes away from the book. Enjoy!
The independent princess has been well established in modern children's books, but there can't be a dandier example than Princess Cimorene. Rangy, curious, energetic, matter-of-fact, she rolls up her sleeves and gets the job done with a happy disregard for the traditions of her role. Although her parents want her to stifle her improper interests in fencing, Latin, and cooking, the princess is not about to be forced into marriage with the vapid prince they have chosen. She throws herself wholeheartedly into a career as a dragon's princess, a respectable role, although not one for which one usually volunteers. As she fends off nosy wizards, helps out hysterical princesses, and turns away determined rescuers, Cimorene makes a firm place for herself in the dragon world and helps solve a wizard plot to take over the dragon realm. The novel is full of excitement, sly references to the staples of fantasy and fairy tales, and good humor. (School Library Journal/Zoobean)
Create a K-W-L Chart and have your child fill in the first two columns with information that s/he knows and wants to find out about the story. S/he can fill in the last column, "What I Learned", once s/he has finished the story.
What I Know
After reading the summary of the story, let your child think about what s/he already knows about the story. Consider questions like, "Who is the main character? What is the problem that the main character will face? Where does this story take place? What are the common characteristics of fairytale stories? How are princesses usually depicted in stories?"
What I Want to Know
Include questions that your child might have about the plot, characters and setting. Think about including questions like, "How is this story different from typical fairytales? What is this wizard plot that Cimorene is trying to stop?"
- How is Cimorene different from the typical princess? How does she find herself becoming a voluntary captive to Kazul?
- What happens when the knights come to Cimorene's rescue?
- How does Cimorene react when the wizard tries to convince her not to return home? What is his motive for telling her this?
- There are several humorous parts in this story. Can you think of a part that made you laugh? Why did you find it so amusing?
- Who is Therandil? How does Cimorene feel about him?
- Have you read or heard any other stories about dragons or wizards? Can you think of any similarities and differences in the way that these two groups are portrayed in those other books versus this one?
- One thing that Cimorene is constantly told in this story is that what she wants to do "just isn't done." What does this mean and how does it apply to your life and the story as a whole?
- In your opinion, what is the most important lesson that Cimorene learns in this story? Is this a lesson that you can apply to your own life? If so, how?
- This book is the first installment in the Enchanted Forest Chronicle. What do you think will happen in the next book?
Extending the Story
Dealing with Dragons isn't your typical fairytale story, but rather contradicts many of the common guidelines of the traditional fairytale. Let your child brainstorm his/her own atypical fairytale and write it out! Work together to create characters, decide on a setting, and determine a plot. Use some of these helpful tips like writing different ideas on slips of paper and choosing at random to create your original fairytale.