Min­del and the Mis­fit Dragons

Xian­na Michaels
  • Review
By – March 30, 2015

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

Mar­ci Lavine Bloch earned her MLS from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Mary­land, a BA from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Penn­syl­va­nia and an MA in Eng­lish Lit­er­a­ture from Ford­ham Uni­ver­si­ty. She has worked in syn­a­gogue and day school libraries and is cur­rent­ly fin­ish­ing her term on the Syd­ney Tay­lor Book Award Committee.

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