by Jessica Day George
Review by Colleen Cahill
Bloomsbury USA Children's Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 1599900572
Date: May, 2007 List Price $16.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
The theme of the princess being rescued from a dragon goes way back in literature, even to the tales of the ancient Greeks. Nowadays there are stories of the princess taking on the dragon herself, as in Robin McKinley's The Hero and the Crown or becoming defenders of the lizards, like Princess Cimorene in Patricia Wrede's Dealing with Dragons. But why should princesses get all the fun? In Jessica Day George's Dragon Slippers, it is a peasant girl who faces up to the scaly beasts and finds adventure comes in many forms, even in the shape of shoes.
One has to admit Creel's aunt is creative when she purposes that her orphaned niece should be given to a dragon. A handsome prince is sure to come rescue the girl from peril and then, bewitched by her beauty, marry Creel and take her to his palace. Of course he would also want to help her poverty stricken family with a bit of money. Even though the rest of the family argues against the plan, her aunt is adamant and Creel finds herself at the mouth of the local dragon cave: never mind that no one had seen a dragon there in years. Imagine everyone's surprise (except Creel's Aunt) when after throwing a few rocks in the cave, a brown, scaly and very old beast does appear. Creel must face the music, but she quickly discovers the dragon is not interested in eating her nor in fighting the son of a local lord who wants to save her. Quick to see a way out of this mess, Creel offers to go away and also get rid of the knight if she can have one item from the dragon's hoard. In her first lesson in dragon lore Creel learns that they don't gather gold, but focus on one type of item and the brown dragon was a collector of ... shoes. After looking over a cavern filled with footwear, Creel selects a pair of blue slippers that fit her perfectly. The dragon at first objects, then reluctantly agrees that he had promised any pair in his hoard.
Creel, newly shod in the blue slippers, decides she will not return to her family but strike out on her own. After telling the lord's son not to bother fighting the dragon as it was dead of old age, she sets out for King's Seat to seek her fortune. The slippers prove a fine choice because no matter how hot or dirty Creel gets from walking, her feet never ache or have any blisters. Just as she is approaching the city, bandits attack and her calls for help are answered by a golden dragon. Shardas, her rescuer, also shows great interest in the slippers. All this would seem adventure enough for anyone, but it is just a start for Creel; after spending some time with Shardas, she feels she must continue her journey and find work. Upon reaching King's Seat, Creel becomes an apprentice in a dress shop, but accidentally makes an enemy of Princess Amalia, fianceé to the Crown Prince; just the thing an aspiring dressmaker does not need! When the Princess tries to get the blue slippers by any means available, Creel finally realizes these are not ordinary shoes. If she cannot solve this riddle quickly, it could mean the destruction of not only her country but of every dragon in the world.
Dragon Slippers is a fun work, full of adventure, magic and lots of dragons. This is aimed at girls, with its likable heroine, but would be a good read for anyone who is a fan of the fiery beasts, if only to find out about the author's interesting twists in dragon lore. A fine choice for younger readers, this book is also worth investigation by adult dragon aficionados.