Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Dragons of Chiril: A Fun Fantasy Read

In The Dragons of Chiril, a renowned sculptor named Verrin Schope has gone missing. When he does not return home, his daughter, Tipper takes charge of the household.  He has been gone for years, so to make ends meet, Tipper begins to sell her fathers statues to rich collectors.

Tipper soon learns that the reason for her fathers disappearance is that he stepped through a "gateway" (a portal to another place, in this case, another continent) that was falling apart.  To fix this gateway, and free Tipper's father, one must unite three of Verrin's statues that were cut from a special stone.  The problem is that those three sculptures have been sold by Tipper and could possibly be in the hands of evil.

Tipper, her friend Beccaroon, a wizard, a librarian, a young artist, a couple of dragons, and a prince make their way through the kingdom to try to find the statues and return Verrin Schope to the land of Chiril in one piece.  Along their way, they run into many adventures and Tipper learns to trust in Wulder (the God figure of this Christian fantasy novel).

The Dragons of Chiril by Donita K. Paul, author of the bestselling Dragonkeeper Chronicles, is a fun, fast paced story with a cast of wonderfully crafted characters.  Throughout my reading, the dialogue of Paul's quirky characters elicited many a snort, chuckle, and guffaw from me, especially the unusual manner and speech of Wizard Fenworth.  Many of the characters, including Fenworth, were so loveable, I wished I could meet them in real life.

This book teaches a valuable lesson about trusting in God's will and knowing that even the most difficult circumstances can work out to bring good. Since it is largely allegorical, it is a great read for older kids and teens, and even adults would enjoy it and the meaning behind it.  I personally enjoyed every minute of The Dragons of Chiril and am eagerly awaiting being able to read the sequel, Dragons of the Valley. 

 I received this book for free from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group for an honest review.

(The Dragons of Chiril was released previously under the title The Vanishing Sculptor.)   

Thursday, November 17, 2011

One is Never too Old to Read a Children's Book

Years ago, there was a certain book that was very popular with my fellow classmates in grade school. All of my friends were reading it, but, for whatever reason, I refused to read it at that time(probably just so I would be different). I recently saw it in the children's section at the public library, and, thinking back to the olden days, picked it up and read it. Once I began reading, I wondered why I had not read it sooner.

It was The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo, an award winning Children's author.

It is the story of an unlikely hero, Despereaux Tilling, the smallest mouse that anyone in his family has ever seen. He is somewhat of an oddity: His ears are too big, he reads books instead of eating the paper inside of them, he walks on his hind legs and gazes at the light in the windows instead of scurrying from side to side, and he falls in love with the princess of the castle where he lives.

Down in the dungeons of the castle, however, lives a rat named Roscuro. Roscuro has an affinity for the light also, but as a rat, his job is to torture the prisoners that enter into his domain. In his desire to see the light again, he ventures into the light's realm, but returns to the dungeons with his heart broken by the princess.

In an elaborate scheme, Roscuro enlists the help of a serving girl, and begins to exact his revenge by kidnapping the princess, named Pea, and holding her in the dungeon. But Despereax learns of the plot, and is determined to be the "knight in shining armor" who rescues the princess.

The Tale of Despereaux is an excellent story for people of all ages (perfect for family read-alouds). It is elegantly written with an air of antiquity. DiCamillo skillfully transports the reader into the shining castle of Princess Pea and into the dark dungeon of Roscuro. It is a story of the triumph of those who love good. As an older teen, I believe I got more out of the reading than I ever would have as a young child.  To a child, it is a simple tale of a battle between good and evil, but to an older reader, it is a call to be different, to not conform to a society that teaches its youth to be afraid of greatness.

Never be afraid to read a children's book.  The worst thing that could happen is that you might finish the book in less than an hour, but the best thing is that you might learn something you missed fifteen or twenty years ago.