Region: Western Europe, Germany
Authors: Arnica Esterl
Original Language: German
Translator: Polly Lawson
Illustrator: Olga Dugina and Andrei Dugin
Genre: Fables and Parables
Descriptors: Fables, folktales, dragons, marriage, poor families, quests, and riches.
Age: 5-8 years old
Arnica Esterl has reimagined a popular German tale in her rendition of Dragon Feathers. Beth, the innkeeper’s daughter has fallen in love with the woodcutter’s son against her father’s wishes. The innkeeper does not want his only daughter to marry a boy that has no wealth. The innkeeper is portrayed as cruel and greedy, but he does present the woodcutter’s son with a proposition to marry his daughter. The woodcutter’s son must pluck three feathers from the most feared creature of the land, the dragon of the dark woods. On his quest, the woodcutter’s son meets a man whose daughter is ill, people who wait for golden fruit from an apple tree, and a ferryman who desperately wants to retire. All three people need something from the dragon but are far too afraid to approach him. The woodcutter’s son graciously volunteers to ask their questions to the dragon. He arrives at the dragon’s castle to find that his wife is the only one home. The dragon’s wife hears the woodcutter’s story of love and of the friends he met along the way and is persuaded into helping. Together they achieve the woodcutter’s quest and he is free to marry his beloved. Though he had nothing, the woodcutter’s son was generous and, in the end, rewarded. On the other hand, the innkeeper was greedy, and in the end, punished for his cruelty. This fable is a reminder to its readers that generosity and kindness get you much farther in life. Aside from the colorful story, the illustrations in this book are elegant and reminiscent of the Northern Renaissance. Olga Dugina and Andrei Dugin are famous German painters and have beautifully captured the essence of the story with their art. There is so much detail in one scene that readers will discover something new each time they pick up the book. One could argue that the illustrations are the focal point of this children’s story. Finally, the vocabulary and amount of words on each page indicate that this print book would be best enjoyed by children between the ages of five and eight years old.
More About This Book
Reviewed: print book by Enchanted Lion Books (2016).
Reviewed by Raquel Martinez