Dragons are usually a source of fear. How- ever, not in this book! Here dragons and people live side-by-side helping one another. Mindel, the young daughter of the castle owner, goes on a mission. Her family is in danger of losing their home and she must achieve all three parts of her quest if she wishes to save the castle. First, since the knights who guard the castle sleep through Shabbos because of the wine they imbibe and the traditional stew that causes them to drowse, she must find somebody to guard the castle who will stay awake. Second, the castle is drafty and the Shabbos candles blow out. Mindel must discover a way to keep them lit. And third, the Torah scrolls are being destroyed. Who or what is damaging them must be discovered and a permanent presence to see that the scrolls are protected must be found.
At the same time that the castle is in disarray, a family of dragons is faced with raising three untraditional children. In fact, the parents are concerned that their progeny will never find a way to adapt to the world in which they live. Amazingly, each of these children supply exactly what the castle needs — a dragon who can’t go to sleep, a dragon whose small but accurate flames can keep the candles lit, and a dragon who loves books and wants to protect them.
The story is filled with many themes that can be explored and discussed including: Is persistence rewarded? Is being different a cause for parental concern? Can being differ- ent be positive?
Written in rhyme, this would make a good read aloud. The calligraphic lettering adds to the atmosphere but might be off-putting to some children unused to the style. How- ever, the book is clever and provocative and provides much material for substantive discussion. Recommended for ages 8 – 12.