Wednesday, April 30, 2008

It was the Scholastic Book Fair at Budza’s school today. He was eager to get an Alex Rider spy novel, having read the graphic novel version of Stormbreaker down in Virginia, visiting his Gammie. It was buy one book, get a second book free, and his choice for his free book was a Scholastic book about dragons.

I have to say, I judged it by its formulaic cover, and figured he’d be much more excited about the Alex Rider book. But he wanted to show his dad this one first, and it was what he wanted to read aloud at bed time. It turned out to be a pretty good survery of world dragon legends. When we got to the description of Krak’s Dragon, and a statue that spat real fire, I called out to my husband in our home office down the hall to Google Krakow and dragon and lo and behold, a very cool statue breathing fire, right in front of Wawel Castle (Wawel Castle, King Krak, a hero named Skuba, a princess named Wilma, a dragon that drinks half of the river Vistula…the whole thing might have sprung up from the mind of John Cleese or Eric Idle). You do have to wonder, if Skuba was clever enough to kill the dragon, why Krakow isn’t called Skubow.

It turns out that the Poles do love their dragons, and Smok Wawelski or Smok the Dragon shows up in many aspects of Polish life, including school plays. I had an early turn on the stage at Madison Elementary as the swagman in Waltzing Matilda (the start of a long acting career in which I never, ever, ever got the ingénue part, but played swagmen, Fern’s mother in Charlotte’s Web, the Badger in Wind in the Willows, and an old lady in a Helen Hayes part). How much more fun to be a dragon.

Little did I realize when Hatching Magic came out in Polish that it fit into such a storied line of Polish dragon legends.

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