Princess Daisy and the Dragon and the Nincompoop Knights by Steven Lenton

Published by Nosy Crow (ISBN: 978-0857632876)

When everyone is awoken one night by a ‘truly dreadful roaring’, everyone assumes the kingdom is under threat from a dragon. No one will listen to Princess Daisy and three knights arrive to save the day with little success. Then, a fourth knight riding a cow appears …

Where to start about this one?! The illustrations are full of detail- the teddy bear in the king’s bed!- and humour- Sir Musclebound riding backwards on his tiny horse!- which beg to be explored and laughed over. The rhyming text is also full of fun which works in harmony with the illustrations. 

The messages in this book are many and strong. First, it tackles sexual stereotyping; the princess kept in a tower to keep her safe and told to go and sew instead of fighting is the one who saves the day when the handsome, strong, clever male knights fail. 

'Girls are clever, tough and bold

and brave and strong and true.

We’re just as good as boys, you know.

We can be heroes, too.'

However, this princess is still proud to be a girl and wear a bright yellow ‘girly’ dress when she becomes queen. She can do ‘much more’ than curtsey, dance and charm, but seems quite happy to do these things as well! One of the townsmen sits contentedly knitting which is another lovely touch and opportunity for discussion!

Alongside this, the book challenges the ideas of what a hero is and not judging people by their appearance. Sir Musclebound is not as tough as he first appears, Sir Daring-do not as fearless and Sir Brainbox not as bright. What qualities does a hero need? Why? 

Being open minded, and trying to understand others, is another theme explored. Why does the king immediately go on the attack and assume the dragon is bad? The story offers an excellent opportunity for discussion about tolerance and finding peaceful ways of ending conflicts.

As you might have gathered, this is going to find its way into my lessons somehow! I think there are many excellent, varied opportunities for writing here too. Many of the illustrations could lead to stories about additional characters- where did that hedgehog come from and what happens to him?! My personal favourite would be Sir Musclebound’s long suffering horse!

Fantastic book! Make sure you read it!

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