Give me books, fruit, french wine and fine weather and a little music out of doors. --John Keats

Friday, October 8, 2010

Reading in Retrospect: "Dragon Rider" by Cornelia Funke

My sister first introduced me to Cornelia Funke's books a number of years ago. Meine Schwester wohnt in Deutschland, and Funke is like a German J.K. Rowling, if perhaps the junior version. I think Sis first told me about The Thief Lord, which I devoured with relish before quickly working my way through several of Funke's other books.

It's been several years since I read Dragon Rider, but luckily I marked down a few notes about it at the time. The story took me a little while to get into, although I’m not sure why, because it turned out to be a very enjoyable book. Perhaps not quite as good as Inkheart (which is by far my favorite Funke book), but every bit as good as The Thief Lord--and maybe just a little bit better because, rather than beginning realistically but suddenly and strangely becoming an obvious fantasy halfway through, Dragon Rider was fantastic in its entirety.

This is the story of Firedrake, a silver dragon, and his furry Brownie companion named Sorrel. Firedrake and Sorrel have embarked on a journey to find the Rim of Heaven, a protected valley of legend where any number of dragons could live undisturbed. Their reason for this quest, and for leaving their happy and comfortable home among other dragons (in Scotland?), is that humans are encroaching on their caves, and discovery--with the inevitable destruction that would follow--is imminent. Once Firedrake has found the Rim of Heaven, he plans to return for the other dragons and lead them to it.

Not far into their journey, Firedrake and Sorrel acquire a small orphaned human named Ben when they stop to purchase a map from Gilbert Graytail, the white rat. Unfortunately (cue menacing music), the trio attracts the attention of a wicked golden pseudo-dragon named Nettlebrand, a creature created by an alchemist for the purpose of destroying dragons.

Not surprisingly, my two older kids have taken to Funke's stories just as much as I have. My son read Dragon Rider for a school project last spring once his interest was spurred by the movie How to Train Your Dragon. Not long afterwards, my daughter also read it when she was on her Cornelia Funke kick.

Dragon Rider is a good fun kids’ book. Have you read anything by Cornelia Funke? Which is your favorite?


Kristi said...

This book sounds great. I haven't read any Cornelia Funke but I have thought about it to see if my boys would like it. I have a 6 and 8 year old, but they read well above their grade level. Which would you recommend they read first?

Kathy said...

Gosh, it's hard to say which to start with . . . if you start with the best one, your boys might be disappointed in the others! If you start with the least favorite, they may not be interested in reading the others!

My favorite was definitely Inkheart. However, it's a bit over 500 pages, so your boys might find that daunting. (Or maybe not!) Dragon Rider isn't much shorter, but the text is less densely packed. The Thief Lord is only about 350 pages.

My son (10 years old) only read Dragon Rider, but just now I asked him what he thought of it and he said it was amazing and he would read it again! This from a not-so-eager reader.

My daughter was 6 when she was on her Funke kick. Her favorite was Inkheart, second favorite was Dragon Rider, and third favorite was The Thief Lord (not because it wasn't good, but because she liked the other two better).

So . . . I don't know if this helped you or not, but I bet your boys (and you!) will love all three books. (Unfortunately, Inkspell--the sequel to Inkheart--was a bit of a disappointment for me. I have the third book, Inkdeath, but haven't read it yet).

Another Funke book we've read is Igraine the Brave. It's OK. Funke also wrote a fun picture book called The Princess Knight.

Kristi said...

I'll have to see if they'll try it. My 8 year old is a reluctant reader also. He reads really well but is just a tad lazy about it. He usually doesn't like reading books that are more than a 100 pages but he did read the first Harry Potter book last year so maybe there is hope. Maybe we'll start with Dragon Rider for him since it is shorter. My 6 year old isn't bothered as much by the length so maybe I'll see if he'll read Inkheart. Thanks Kathy!

Kathy said...

You're more than welcome! You'll have to be sure to let me know if they tackle these books, and what they think of them! If your reluctant reader doesn't want to read such a long book to himself, you would probably all enjoy one as a bedtime story over a few weeks!

Lesa said...

I've read all of Funke's books except Igraine which is on the bookcase right behind me. I loved Dragon rider too. There was always something I didn't like about the ink books-- maybe the underlying creepiness...

Kathy said...

I'm so glad you've already discovered Funke's books! Which do you think was your favorite? And, isn't it fun to think that in a few years T will be enjoying them too! Or have you already read them to him? :)