Kate Coombs

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The Runaway Dragon

written by Kate Coombs

Farrar, Straus & Giroux, New York 2009
ISBN-10: 0374363617 / ISBN-13: 978-0374363611
(For readers ages 8 and up)

     When Meg walked in, King Stromgard was leaning forward in his ornate throne, looking tragically at a rumpled rag of a something held up before him by two solemn guardsmen. As she got closer, Meg could smell a nasty charred scent. "Excuse me, but what is that thing, Father?"
     The king finally met her eyes. "That is, or that was..." He cleared his throat and fell silent.
     Queen Istilda spoke from her seat beside him. "It's what's left of the flag of Greeve."
     "The royal flag that represented our proud kingdom," Meg's father elaborated.
     "Oh," Meg said. "The flag Great-great-grandmother Ameliana embroidered? With the daisies and the, um, the dragon, and those little bent thingies?"
     "Chevrons," said the queen.
     The courtiers rumbled and hissed against the throne room's backdrop of heroic tapestries. Meg tried not to look at any of them. "What happened?" she asked, raising the inevitable.
     "Your dragon happened," King Stromgard told her.




From the Publisher

When Meg's dragon, Laddy, flies away from home, she knows she must go on a quest to find him. But she hasn't counted on her parents, the king and queen of Greeve, sending ten guardsmen along. Fortunately, she is also accompanied by her best friends: Dilly, a lady-in-waiting and a cool head in any crisis not involving heights; Cam, a gardener's assistant who knows the exact value of a brick shed filled with sausages; Nort, a skinny guardsman who has never given much thought to crows; and Lex, a young wizard with bad taste in horses, magic carpets, and sorceresses. Of course, Meg's quest goes topsy-turvy once she enters the enchanted forest—and her adventure is just beginning. What's more, meeting up with the dashing bandit Bain again isn't at all what she expected. Will this princess be able to rescue herself, let alone anybody else?

In The Runaway Princess, Meg and her friends defeated a pack of princes. Now they're going to need swordplay, magic, and a whole lot of courage to find Laddy and get back home!



From the Critics

from Horn Book Magazine

Coombs again takes a familiar setup—feisty princess, fractured-fairy-tale kingdom—and makes it fresh with droll humor, brisk plotting, and multidimensional characters. Even as the world they inhabit grows increasingly zany, the characters themselves are never satirized, which allows the narrative to function at two levels: the ironic send-up and the earnest hero tale. Combined, they make for a warm, witty story that will leave readers clamoring for the next installment.
Reviewer: Claire E. Gross


from Kirkus

In this funny, lighthearted follow-up to The Runaway Princess (2006), it's the dragon's turn to spread his wings and fly the coop... Enchanted forests, rampant transmogrification, evil sorceresses and giants are all fine fodder for Coombs's inventive twists on traditional fairy tales, as illuminated in the author's note.


from Booklist

Coombs mines the tropes of folklore for her situations and characters (especially Spinach, a girl with long hair who is rescued from a tower), and fans of the first book will appreciate the strong feminist ending. Reminiscent of Mary Norton's The Borrowers (1952) and Jean Ferris' Once upon a Marigold (2002), this will resonate with princess fanatics.
Reviewer: Kay Weisman


from School Library Journal

This humorous adventure, a sequel to The Runaway Princess (Farrar, 2006), captures readers' attention from the start and doesn't let go.... The ensuing story follows a route filled with surprises and intricate twists that keep readers wondering when, and if, Meg will reach her goal.... Meg is a likable and multidimensional figure, as are her companions. The evil characters are richly drawn as well. Patricia Wrede's fans will love this offering, as will those who enjoyed Gail Carson Levine's Ella Enchanted.
Reviewer: Renee Steinberg


from Laura Salas: Writing the World for Kids

"One Book I Love" post:
A wonderful, funny, fantasy middle-grade novel. The adventure story is terrific, but the voice is my favorite part... Great book for the 5th and 6th graders on your holiday list!


from Jennifer at Jean Little Library

These stories [The Runaway Princess and The Runaway Dragon] are, to me, some of the best examples of middle grade fantasy... I love the humor and craft that goes into Coombs' excellent plots, but the characters are even more fun...

Coombs has managed to create a believable and independent fantasy heroine. Too many fantasy heroines are either completely useless wusses, waiting to be rescued, romanced, or guided OR they're unbelievable super girls who never put a foot wrong and get themselves out of every predicament. Meg is just perfectly in-between. She's courageous and determined and has lots of skills and good qualities, but she also knows when she needs help and that she has a lot to learn.

Fantasy fans who like plenty of humor and strong heroines will fall in love with Meg and her friends. Talk these up to fans of Patricia C. Wrede, Jessica Day George, Sarah Beth Durst, and Gail Carson Levine. These aren't just for girls either; there are plenty of diverse characters of both genders to enjoy and Runaway Dragon in particular divides the story between Meg's adventures and her friends' struggle to escape. Highly recommended!


from Charlotte's Library

It is a most entertaining read, one I'd recommend in a second to anyone with a fondness for fairy tales and plucky girls. Meg might not be that great at magic (although she's good at raising sneezing fits and the most charming magical scarf I've ever read about), and she's still working on her swordsmanship, but she is tough, and smart, and determined, persevering in the face of difficulties. In short, a true hero.

And Coombs' writing is sharp and funny, and interesting—it's clear that she's having fun with her words, and that makes it fun for the reader too! ...[M]iddle-grade at its most perfect middle!








 
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