Books about dragons for a precocious 11-year-old
August 24, 2017 2:38 PM   Subscribe

My 11-year-old niece is a big fan of How to Train Your Dragon. What other age-appropriate books revolve around dragons?

Already found and/or ruled out: The Hobbit, Pern, Eragon. If possible, I would like recommendations for our-world-but-with-dragons books, not books set in other fictional worlds.
posted by Paragon to Writing & Language (32 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
The standard rec here is His Majesty's Dragon, although I read it so long ago that I no longer feel comfortable saying whether it's entirely suitable for a bright 11-year-old. It's about the Napoleonic Wars, but with dragons.
posted by praemunire at 2:41 PM on August 24 [3 favorites]


(I mean, I think I could've read it at that age without trauma, but it does involve war--though definitely more at Tolkien levels of graphicness than, say, GOT--so YMMV.)
posted by praemunire at 2:42 PM on August 24


Dealing With Dragons! Dealing with Dragons! It's about as much "our world" as HtTYD, and any smart 11 year old will appreciate all the playing with fairy tale tropes.

I also really liked Lawrence Yep's Dragon of the Lost Sea around that age.
posted by theweasel at 2:44 PM on August 24 [31 favorites]


The writing style in His Majesty's Dragon might be tough for an 11 year old. The first book, in particular, is deep into mimicking Patrick O'Brien's idiosyncratic approximation of 1800's literature. So semi-colons and weirdo elliptical breaks and all that.

On the other hand, Dealing With Dragons is a favorite among girls that age for a reason, though they are different-universe ones.
posted by joyceanmachine at 2:45 PM on August 24 [3 favorites]


Nthing Dealing with Dragons. It is also part of a series of four books which gives you more world to dive into
posted by Suffocating Kitty at 2:49 PM on August 24 [1 favorite]


The Hero and the Crown.
posted by bluebird at 3:08 PM on August 24 [6 favorites]


The Hero and the Crown is great and very feminist and awesome (as I remember it, though I haven't read it since I was 11ish myself).
posted by Countess Sandwich at 3:36 PM on August 24 [1 favorite]


The Dark Lord of Derkholm has a dragon as a character, and is set in a world that's related to our world. It has some adult themes (such as professional development, spousal insecurity, parenting and greed), plus it also has non-gory fighting, but it'd be an easy, fun read.
posted by ambrosen at 3:52 PM on August 24 [2 favorites]


Jane Yolen's Pit Dragon series. (Bonus: CBS Storybreak.)
posted by BrashTech at 3:56 PM on August 24 [3 favorites]


Seconding the Hero and the Crown: SO good, she's the perfect age for it. If she likes it she might also like Dragonhaven, by the same author.
posted by charmedimsure at 4:06 PM on August 24 [2 favorites]


E Nesbit wrote a book of short stories about dragons, appropriately called The Book of Dragons. Carole Wilkinson's Dragon Keeper (first in a series) is set in China's Han Dynasty. While I love The Hero and the Crown, it is a different world and the dragon is pretty unpleasant. As mentioned above, McKinley's Dragonhaven might be a better pick.

I really really reaaaaally want to mention Le Guin and if she wants to delve into another world, the Earthsea books would be fantastic.
posted by Athanassiel at 4:17 PM on August 24 [1 favorite]


Maybe Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher by Bruce Coville?
posted by janepanic at 4:41 PM on August 24 [2 favorites]


Here, There be Dragons starts in our world and then the characters go to a world very similar to ours. Some characters will seem quite familiar. There are also sequels.

Seraphina by Rachel Goodman is set in a world similar to Renaissance Europe. It's about a girl who is musically gifted and half dragon in a world where humans and dragons are living in uneasy peace.

I tried to get my 11-year-old daughter to read The Hero and the Crown and she was not that interested. The bullying/abuse by Galanna may have put her off, I think.
posted by mogget at 4:50 PM on August 24 [1 favorite]


My 12-year-old loves the Wings of Fire series.
posted by Ostara at 4:52 PM on August 24 [4 favorites]


Definitely definitely Dealing with Dragons by Patricia Wrede and it's sequels. Amazing books!
posted by firei at 5:13 PM on August 24 [3 favorites]


Susan Fletcher's Dragon Chronicles! The first three are set in a vaguely medievalish past, but iirc the 4th (Ancient Strange and Lovely) is set in our modern world. I believe it could stand on its own, though it's been a while since I've read them.

Also seconding that while The Hero and the Crown is an amazing book that any fantasy lover should read, it doesn't necessarily fit the bill here, as the dragons are antagonists, not sympathetic.
posted by tan_coul at 5:30 PM on August 24


The second Paksenarrion series; Oath of Fealty, Kings Of the North, Echoes of Betrayal, Limits of Power, and Crown of Renewal; has a dragon that I grew rather fond of. His first question to any human he met was, "Are you wise?" All the ones with any glimmering of wisdom of course answered, "No." He offered a number of human characters the opportunity to become their best selves.

The series isn't about the dragon, but I would say he is a significant character.

The Paksenarrion books are not set in this world. More like Middle Earth, but with Gods that are actively engaged in human lives.
posted by Bruce H. at 5:34 PM on August 24


A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent, by Marie Brennan. My 10yo dragon lover liked it, along with a number of other books mentioned in this thread.
posted by cocoagirl at 6:01 PM on August 24


I'll correct a response above and say Seraphina (and its sequel) are by Rachel Hartman, an old pal of mine.
posted by Smearcase at 6:06 PM on August 24


CS Lewis' Voyage of the Dawn Treader involves a main character being transformed into a dragon.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 6:32 PM on August 24


Kind of a dark horse selection, but the Dinotopia books utterly absorbed me when I was just that age. They're about dinosaurs, not dragons, but they might just scratch a similar itch. They're lavishly illustrated (more about the art than the story, really) but the text is great, too—totally accessible for an 11-year-old, but "adult" enough feeling that they offer that frisson of reading a grownup book.
posted by Sokka shot first at 6:40 PM on August 24 [1 favorite]


I came here to strongly recommend Dealing with Dragons, but since that's taken care of: My Father's Dragon! It also has two delightful sequels, Elmer's Dragon and The Dragons of Blueland. I read them when I was a little younger than 11, but they are still fun for an 11-year-old.
posted by capricorn at 6:44 PM on August 24 [1 favorite]


Tooth and Claw, by Jo Walton. It's a note-perfect Victorian novel with all the sibling rivalries, moral outrage, class distinctions, and colorful stragglers & strivers that a kid will recognize from Disney & Dickens--but everyone in it is a dragon. It's hilarious and great fun and IMO pretty gentle--all the gruesomeness in it is the gruesomeness of society.
posted by miles per flower at 8:52 PM on August 24 [2 favorites]


There's a series called Dragonsitter that is enjoyed by my personal Cressida Cowell fan.
posted by bq at 9:20 PM on August 24


Jessica Day George has a book called Dragon Slippers that should be very age appropriate.

Gail Carson Levine's A Tale of Two Castles has a dragon detective as one of the main characters.

I can't think of any books with dragons in our world except The Story of Owen: Dragonslayer of Trondheim, which I think might be a little more YA than her age, though I haven't read it.
posted by gideonfrog at 6:09 AM on August 25


Yes yes yes to Dealing with Dragons.

And a hesitant yes to Dark Lord of Derkholm. It's wonderful fun with dragons and laughs and all sorts of good things (the world is one where people from our world come to have Traditional Fantasy Adventures), and it's actually one of my favourite Diana Wynne Jones novels. If your daughter loves it, there's plenty more by her that are less-dragony but just as fun. However! My hesitation comes from one particular scene. It is in no way graphic or sexualised, but one of the female characters is sexually assaulted. As an adult reader, it was very clear that it had happened and very upsetting. It's possible that, as a child, I wouldn't have understood what was going on or have bene mature enough to understand and be upset by it. Let you knowledge of your own daughter guide you on that one.
posted by AmandaA at 6:40 AM on August 25


The Dragons of Ordinary Farm, by Tad Williams and Deborah Beale is about a secretive farm/ranch in California.
posted by tracer at 7:15 AM on August 25 [1 favorite]


Dragonology is a great book for those interested in dragons. Kind of a field guide with blended fiction and lots of great art.
posted by LKWorking at 7:38 AM on August 25


Out of print, but available used: A Book Dragon by Donn Kushner has a tiny adorable dragon set in our world who learns to read and hordes books.
posted by happyturtle at 1:02 PM on August 25


Nthing Dealing with Dragons and its prequel/sequels, so the whole Enchanted Forest Chronicles.

Also, this may be a little too much for an eleven-year-old, but The Immortals quartet by Tamora Pierce has dragons in its fourth book. (The previous three are enjoyable in different ways.) It's not our world, per se, but a medieval-ish sword and sorcery with strong heroines.
posted by LoonyLovegood at 1:46 PM on August 25


Dragons in our world are harder to find than you might expect, given how large and conspicuous they tend to be.

I see someone's already suggested The Book of Dragons (Nesbit), which I think is the same as the book I know as The Last of the Dragons and some others. Some of those stories are set in the real (Victorian) world; others are more fairy-tale-ish.

If it's OK for the dragon to be the antagonist (and to spend most of the novel as a sinister and menacing but off-stage presence), there's Buried Fire by Jonathan Stroud, set in the English countryside. Caveat, though: I enjoyed it a lot, but I see from Goodreads that lots of people didn't. (It's nothing like his later books, tonally, so I can see how that might happen.)

On a much lighter note, there's The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart by Stephanie Burgis - though isn't set in our world, but somewhere not too far off historical Europe. The protagonist is a dragon, the book is lovely, and there's a sequel due out next year.

Finally, if you can find a copy, your niece might like The Flight of Dragons by Peter Dickinson, a "pseudo-scientific monograph" discussing the evolution and natural history of the dragon, an extinct species.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 6:38 AM on August 26 [1 favorite]


ooo, The Song of the Quarkbeast by Jasper Fforde is perfect
posted by bq at 5:45 PM on August 27


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