Always quirky, sometimes sweet speculative fiction

Tag: Jane and The Dragon

Jane and the Dragon, by Martin Baynton

Normally I post my reviews on Goodreads. This blog isn’t intended as a book review blog (not that I’m against them, I follow quite a few and they are the ruin of my bank balance) however considering how many posts prior to this one have been about or sprung from ‘Jane and the Dragon’ (how many? Try here, and here) I felt I really did need to post my review of the book I so enthusiastically tracked down.

As with several other books I have purchased for my son, the for my son part needs to be put in sarcastic quotation marks, like someone is standing there waggling the first two fingers on each of their hands to emphasize the fact it was more for me than he – at least for now. The reading age this book is aimed at is several years away from my seventeen month old son. I’ve sat down repeatedly and tried to read it with him, but we never seem to make it past page 5 (there’s 24 pages, so that’s a dismal failure) if I read the text. We have leafed through to the end admiring the pictures several times and I’ve read the book on my own a couple of times.

Jane is destined to be a lady-in-waiting like her mother, but what she really wants is to be a knight. She is brave enough to tell everyone. In return for her honesty everyone either shuts her down or mocks her for it – except for the court jester, who gives her a suit of armour(it was his because he too once dreamed, but now he wants her to dream it for him). Just in time as well, since a dragon swoops in and captures the prince. Jane seizes the day and rides to the prince’s rescue to fight the dragon and – well I’ll leave you to read the book or watch the show to find out what happens next.

The characters are quite a delight, Jane’s mother and father – even though they are minor characters are clearly drawn (in words, not pictures – though pictures as well since this is a kids book) in their responses to Jane’s announcement that she wishes to be a knight. The prince and king are also well thought through and it’s lovely to see background characters receiving a decent treatment.

Jane herself is what drew me to this book and she didn’t disappoint. Jane is brave and forthright and works hard. She also allows herself to dream big. I love these qualities and can’t help but adore Jane. She also is merciful, which is a great thing for a knight to be – for anyone actually. Jane is in my personal Hall of Fame for good female role models.

The artwork within is colourful and detailed. The costumes, Jane’s wild red hair, the dragon himself, all magnificent. The artwork looks like it has been drawn with coloured pencils so might inspire children to draw their own adventures. I would love to share some here, but I have a feeling that would infringe on copyright, so I’ll just tell you to buy the book yourself or go to the library and borrow it. (Here’s a link to the Book Depository if you want to order online, but I do encourage you to try buying from your local bookstore – after all, tomorrow is Save The Bookstores day.)

I was surprised to find it was originally written in 1988, but republished again when Martin Baynton joined with Weta to make the TV show. I love that in the author bio on the final page there is a small explanation as to the origin of Jane’s character. It’s a great insight as to why Baynton chose to write this book.

All in all it’s a great book. I loved reading it (yes, from an adult perspective as well as a mum perspective) and can’t wait until Xander is a little older and can comprehend the story to see what his reactions are. I think I’ll have to go out and buy the sequels as well. “For him” of course ;p

 

 

What did you think of my first book review for a children’s book? Did I miss anything you would consider important?

About Positive Female Role-Models For Boys

Jane and the Dragon

Recently I discovered a cool children’s show called ‘Jane and the Dragon’. Naturally I loved the medieval/fantasy setting, I liked the gaming style animation of the characters and the pencil shaded look of the backgrounds and what REALLY sold me (and this is no surprise to anyone who knows me well) is the main character is a girl training to be a knight.

I found out shortly after watching several episodes it was based on a series of books for children and my mind couldn’t help but ask “How could this possibly get any better?”

I’m currently hunting down the books – they appear to be out of print annoyingly enough but there are many online services designed to help me circumvent THAT issue – partially for my own guilty pleasure but more so for Xander. Why? Because until recently I had no idea how little the realms of fantasy (among other things) have few positive female role models.

Personally it hasn’t been until entering the blogosphere that I even realised this. Perhaps I have always had the good fortune of consistently picking up the right kinds of books where women were strong and brave and bold – often outside of the confines of their usual roles, but sometimes from within those restrictions as well. More likely it is the fact I’ve always been a tomboy and as such gender roles were by and large ignored by me. Some of the posts I read make me roll my eyes at the melodrama, but some have such clever points that I can’t help but feel shocked.

So why then do I care about my son reading stories where women are positive role models? That is because I want him to one day be talking with a girl, disheartened she will tell him ‘I can’t be a *Insert role here* because I’m a girl’ and his response will be a look of bewilderment followed by a reply of ‘who on earth told you that load of balderdash? Of course you can’. Okay, maybe he won’t say balderdash, but what more could a mother want to hear?

Xander already has access to some great tales of feminine strength that are brilliantly disguised as ‘normal’ fun stories ranging from comics to books and even a few video games (there’s a sad few of that last format). He even has several real life role models (of course I count myself, but there are a couple of others as well who I hope can stay in his life for him to both learn from and love). So the future looks promising for my sweet little man and with some luck for that poor misguided girl too.

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If you’re interested you may like to read this nice letter to the girls of the world.

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picture from the official Jane and the Dragon website.

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