Guys. You guuuuuys. This is… I mean… the… *insert unintelligible noises*… awesome. The awesomeness that is contained in these pages. This book makes me want to grab a child and read it to them. This book is like The Princess Bride, both in awesomeness and in that it is a story being told to children. I suppose also in that there is a princess who does not begin as a princess. But like The Princess Bride, it is also a timeless tale that can be passed on to generations.
Our journey begins with a father telling his boys a story. It is a story that has been passed down and is now a tradition in the family.
“I like traditions. They’re like little flag posts, leading us from one decade to the next.”
Shown in italics, we hear from our storyteller and his sons periodically throughout the story. (Like Fred Savage and Peter Falk!) But I digress…
Our tale is that of Jocelyn, an orphaned milkmaid who has dreams of princessdom. After leaving home, she is rescued not by a hero or a knight or a prince like she may have wanted, but by a dragon.
“After all, what is a villain, other than a hero from the other side of the battlefield?”
She is taken to his tower, where she lives with him and a troll for a time, and is happy. But that happiness quickly comes to an end when they are attacked by the Black Knight.
Jocelyn starts on a seemingly hopeless journey to save the dragon, and meets some friends and allies along the way. We see her transition from milkmaid to princess with nothing more than her will, wit, and kindness. She becomes a princess by being honest and fighting for what she believes in. The outside trappings and friends she makes do help her on that journey, but with those basic internal qualities, McLain shows that anyone can become a princess (or prince, if you like.) Who needs Elsa and her ice powers when you have an army who will fight for you at your back? You want to create your own path? Go for it! You dream of being an architect, an engineer, an underwater basket weaver? Follow your dreams!
Perhaps the story format gives the book a comforting feel, or maybe it comes from the similarities to a well-loved book/movie. It has basic themes of honesty, loyalty, and kindness, lessons that are good and necessary to be passed on to listeners and/or readers of all ages. It is an epic tale (but not epic in length) that includes a princess, a dragon, a knight, a troll, a fool, and a few thieves, just to name a few, so there is something for everyone. If you like The Princess Bride (and really, who doesn’t?) than you will enjoy David McLain’s Dragonbait. The chapters are short, the dialogue is clever, and the characters are enchanting. Overall, it is the perfect book to read aloud. Anyone interested in a bedtime story?