Anne McCaffrey

Morality: B
Writing: B-

This book is set in the same world as McCaffrey’s adult Pern novels, but you don’t have to read any of them to enjoy it–I didn’t. The heroine is Menolly, a teenaged girl in Half-Circle Sea Hold who loves music and dreams of becoming a Harper. But her father thinks that it’s not a woman’s place to do such things; and after their old Harper (who befriended Menolly) dies, she is forbidden to sing or play. Her family’s persecutions mount until finally Menolly runs away to live by herself in the wilderness. She stumbles across a brood of fire lizards–tiny dragons thought to be just legends–and forms a mental bond with them.

I first read this book when I was fourteen, which was probably the perfect age. The idea of running away to live on your own, without any adults–and not meeting a nasty end–was immensely appealing to me. But Dragonsong is not just escapist fluff. Granted, it’s not great literature, but it is reasonably well-written. Menolly is a sympathetic character, and her story is charmingly told.

Morally, this book does not have a lot of import. Some parents might be uncomfortable with the negative depiction of Menolly’s family, but the book seems to be passing judgement on one particular family, rather than all families in general. Unless all your children’s books are about misunderstood adolescents with cruel parents, I don’t think it will be a problem.

Posted by Rose | April 24, 2003

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