by Judy Newman with Alexie Basil
Just like Allister in the Book Boys episode this week, I don’t consider myself a fantasy reader. But this week, I realized that I have enjoyed many fantasy books.
I loved A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle when I was a kid. And I read all the Tolkien books. But it was during a time when my mother decided we should all try the Evelyn Wood speed reading method—when we would sit at the dining room table with paper clips and try to sight-read entire phrases instead of reading aloud in our head.
It felt really strange. But Evelyn Wood—who was a teacher at Jordan High School in Sandy, Utah—could read 2,700 words a minute. So I guess it worked for some people!
I think I read The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings series during the Evelyn Wood period, so I feel like the paper clips and stopwatch got in the way of me really understanding who Bilbo Baggins, Frodo Baggins, Samwise Gamgee, and Gandalf the Grey were and what their quest for the ring was all about.
I listened to the Song of Ice and Fire series—known by its TV audience as Game of Thrones, which was actually named after the first installment—read by the wonderful Roy Dotrice on audiobook. Which is why I have arguments with the TV audience about the pronunciation of “Brienne.”
The TV show can be a little too much for me at times, but now that we’re coming up to the final season, I may go back and binge-watch one of these days.
And this week, I got to revisit the modern-classic classroom-favorite novel Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke.
Cornelia has won more than a dozen prestigious awards, including the Roswitha Prize—the oldest German-language award for female authors. I love what Cornelia Funke says in this interview about how the world is “so fantastic that only fantasy gives [her] the chance to truly show how wonderful and bizarre and incredible it is.”
I was at Scholastic when we published Cornelia Funke’s bestsellers for the first time in the United States—The Thief Lord in 2002, the first installment of the Inkheart trilogy in 2003, and Dragon Rider in 2004. Cornelia even came to a Scholastic Book Fair at Montclair Kimberley Academy in Montclair, New Jersey, and mesmerized the audience with her incredible answers to their questions about the writing process and her book.
For me, Dragon Rider falls into the same category as A Wrinkle in Time: an epic fantasy adventure, yes, but mostly a timeless story enjoyed by many generations before and to come. In the story, a dragon, a brownie (which is a magical cat-like creature), and a young boy are traveling to find a safe haven for dragon-kind after humans threaten their current home.
“An absolutely amazing story. Unputdownable.” —The Guardian
I was so thrilled to hear that Cornelia revisited the world of Dragon Rider and that her new book, The Griffin’s Feather, is being published. In celebration of The Griffin’s Feather, and to get readers into the world of Firedrake, Sorrel, and Ben—who readers can learn more about in our exclusive Character Guide—we are making Dragon Rider available as the Scholastic Book Clubs Dollar Deal this week only!
As we do every week, David Vozar and I review our Dollar Deal title. This is what he said (and drew!) about Dragon Rider:
“As a child, I always had a problem riding on animals.
“At carnivals and farms, I would watch on the sidelines as kids rode by on ponies, horses, donkeys, and even camels. In those rare times when my parents would coax me to give it a try, I would count the minutes until I could get off.
“I just never felt comfortable riding on another animal. Putting my mind into the mind of the animal, I always thought that it must be equally uncomfortable for them as well.”
The blog team was so excited to spend some time with this classic! The Book Boys show Allister how much fun fantasy can be; Cornelia Funke herself shares some little-known facts about her writing in Behind the Scenes; the blog team uncovers the journey to Dragon Rider’s creation in Book Talks; and you can give your students the confidence to read a longer book with the Character Guide in Cooked Up from a Book!
I hope you and your students enjoy Dragon Rider and remember that no adventure is too big for you.
This Book Is Available from Scholastic Book Clubs