— G.K. Chesterton
The above quote got me thinking about dragons...
Dragons can be found in stories and art from many cultures: there are Biblical dragons, dragons in Islamic and Orthodox traditions, Asian dragons and African dragons, as well as Medieval dragons. Mostly, they are depicted as evil and scarey, sometimes fire-breathing, often miserly. They usually have the ability to fly and they live in or near water. Some of literature's famous dragons are: "Smaug", Tolkien's last great dragon of Middle Earth; Andrew Lang's fairy tale dragons; Beowolf's "Grendel"; and "Custard" the dragon, found in poetry by Ogden Nash - to name a few.
My personal favorite story that involves a dragon is from THE VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER, by C.S. Lewis. (ages 9-12) Eustace Clarence Scrubb, the very unpleasant, bratty cousin of Edmund and Lucy, goes on a Narnian adventure with them. As the story progresses, Eustace sneaks away and comes upon the lair of a dying dragon. He steals from the dragon's pile of treasure and ends up falling asleep on it. When he wakes up, he finds that he, himself has turned into a dragon. He eventually makes his way back to his friends, convinces them that he is really Eustace and uses his skills as a dragon to help them. Through this, he realizes he would rather be friendly and have friends, than be mean and lonely. The best part is when Aslan comes and leads him to a healing pool. With his sharp claws, Aslan helps Eustace painfully remove his scaly dragon skin, layer by layer. Eustace becomes a changed person, on the outside as well as the inside.
|illustration by Pauline Baynes|
For the child who wants to know about all things dragon, there is Edith Nesbit's THE BOOK OF DRAGONS, which contains eight short stories about...dragons. There is also HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON, the first of a series of 8 books by Cressida Cowell about dragons. Both books are for ages 8-12.