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111 of 119 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Una great book
It sounds like one of those triple dog dares English professors give one another between the Senior seminar classes they teach. "Hey! I dare you to adapt a story from Edward Spencer's, 'The Fairy Queen' AND to do it in such a way that it remains true to the essential story". And before you know it some poor sap has just devoted numerous wasted hours to adapting...
Published on July 21, 2004 by E. R. Bird

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20 of 32 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nice pictures, but...
Having read the other glowing reviews that have been written about this book, I was prepared to be dazzled by it!

Unfortunately, when I read it myself, I was left somewhat disappointed. The pictures were nice, but the wording definitely left something to be desired. Keeping in mind the age group that this was written for, I think the dialogue should have been...
Published on August 29, 2004 by M. A. Bechaz


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111 of 119 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Una great book, July 21, 2004
This review is from: Saint George and the Dragon (Paperback)
It sounds like one of those triple dog dares English professors give one another between the Senior seminar classes they teach. "Hey! I dare you to adapt a story from Edward Spencer's, 'The Fairy Queen' AND to do it in such a way that it remains true to the essential story". And before you know it some poor sap has just devoted numerous wasted hours to adapting a piece of literature that was never meant to be dumbed down in any form or method. So thought I as I picked up and perused the Caldecott award winning picture book, "Saint George and the Dragon". I might well have abandoned it right there and then if I hadn't noticed that the illustrations (I should say the glorious illustrations) were created by the accomplished Trina Schart Hyman. I've always felt Ms. Hyman never got the respect she fully deserved, so out of respect for her I picked up this pint sized novella and read it through. Once I arrived at the last page a single thought paraded through my glory. "Glory be", thought I. "It worked".

If you're not familiar with the tale of the Red Cross Knight and his fair lady Una I'll give you a little update. In this story, Una is the princess of a realm that has been threatened by a dragon. Because her parents are wussies Una takes it upon herself to find a champion who will do battle with the fowl beast. Such a champion she finds in the Red Cross Knight and the two travel back to her land accompanied by her white donkey, pet goat, and dwarf servant (as per usual). In time, they find the dragon and three times does the Red Cross Knight fight with it. The first time he collapses from battle and is restored by a magic pool. The second time he collapses and is restored by a magic apple tree (don't ask). The third time he mightily smites the evil creature and his hand is promised in marriage to Una. But the knight is sworn to the Faerie Queen and he must serve her further before he settles down with his lovely wife.

If you've read "The Faerie Queen" then you can tell that there's been some serious editing done to this telling. In some ways the Una of the original tale is far more gutsy and virtuous than her watered down compatriot in picture book form. Just the same, there's no getting around the fact that this story would never have even taken place if Una had capitulated to her parents' fears and not sought help. Author Margaret Hodges is clever enough to insert the occasional phrase from the original text when appropriate. These are usually fairly easy to read, though kids might stumble over a word or two. And there's no getting around the fact that this puppy is wordy. Still, considering how much was in the original text...

Let's face facts here and now though. Would this book be anywhere without the fine lines and exemplary technique of Ms. Hyman? Interestingly enough, I was mightily disappointed in Hyman's dragon. She excels at human and fairy faces in this book, but the dragon featured isn't frightening enough. His clawed hands are thick and clumsy and his fire breathing is paltry at best. Still, everything else here is superb. For example, Hyman is so careful about getting even the smallest details right that the borders of her pictures are filled with plants, flowers, and berries that are native to the British Isles. There too, she has created a kind border technique where characters can peer intently at the reader from time to time. I think one of the things I like best about her illustrations is the way Ms. Hyman breaks through the fourth wall. At significant moments characters in her books will regard the reader with blatant stares, as if they're daring you to challenge their importance in the tale. The result is always shocking, never predictable. Frankly, this book may lack in the whole big-green-scaly-monster department, but it excels everywhere else.

If you're interested in getting the kids involved in Spencer from an early age onward, you could do worse than pick, "Saint George and the Dragon". Big fights, big words, and epic plotting... what more could a kid hope for? I'm not going to pretend that some kids won't be bored to death by this book because some most definitely will. But there's always that odd child here and there that will take this book to heart and carry it with him or her for the rest of their days. For them was this book written.
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44 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Recreates an Illuminated Manuscript to Tell about St. George, April 23, 2001
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 124,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Saint George and the Dragon (Paperback)
This book was a Caldecott Medal winner as the best illustrated children's book in 1987. You will never see a finer set of modern simulations of a Middle Ages illuminated manuscript. The full range of the rainbow is vividly and brilliantly worked into almost every illustration. On text pages, the illuminations surround the words while on illustrated pages, they fill across the whole page -- border and all.
Unlike most children's stories, this one captures the full richness of the original tale as told by Spenser in the Faerie Queen. Without all the background of that story, some references here are not clear, so you'll want to explain them to your child.
The book features a ferocious three day battle between St. George and the dragon. For sensitive children, that battle in this book could encourage nightmares. I suggest that you either not share the book with children who might be frightened, or read it to them early in the day.
When a dragon terrorizes her father's kingdom, Princess Una escapes from the family castle to seek help. After an arduous journey, she finds the Red Cross Knight and calls upon him for assistance. He follows her back toward the castle. Along the way, he glimpses aspects of his future life.
Upon the plain surrounding the castle, a terrible and aggressive dragon waits to attack. The knight bravely attacks, but his weapon is no match for the dragon. He is gravely wounded and falls to the earth. It looks like the battle is over. Miraculously, the knight is restored to full strength the next day. The battle recommences, and the knight is again devastated by the dragon. But the knight has injured the dragon a little. Once again, the knight revives and the third day provides the titanic battle in which the knight slays the dragon.
The king and queen come out to welcome the knight, and offer him many riches. The knight modestly declines and pleads that the riches be given to the poor, instead. The king offers Princess Una's hand in marriage and his kingdom. The knight protests that he must serve the Fairy Queen for 6 more years. The king says that is all right, and the two are married. The knight comes and goes to serve his duty.
In time, he becomes known as St. George, the patron saint of England.
The story contains many worthwhile moral lessons such as being steadfast in one's duty, overcoming adversity through persistance and courage, and preferring to help others rather than seeking rewards for oneself. As such, the book is much more inspiring and heroic than most modern children's literature, and will become a favorite of those who like to take the challenges of the hard path.
After you and your child finish reading this story, on some occasions you should talk about what challenges face modern people. How can we serve others? How can we be modest in our pursuit? How can our lives provide lessons for others?
Pursue to the limits of potential and imagination!
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Introduction to the Genre, July 12, 2004
This review is from: Saint George and the Dragon (Paperback)
Adapted from Spenser's Faerie Queene, this is a highly literate children's tale. We meet the Red Cross Knight as he is heading into his first adventure. Princess Una has sought him as champion for her parents in fighting the usual terrorizing dragon. The plot is the usual one: boy meets girl, girl tells boy how royal parents are being terrorized by a dragon. Boy slays dragon, marries princess. Though this story does not stray from the formula, it is realized in a very fine fashion and richly illustrated. Each of some dozen pairs of facing pages has fantastic illustrations on one side with a few paragraphs of text on the other. The illustrations are among the best I've seen, they rank together with Child of Faerie Child of Earth and Fairy Wings. Each illustrated page is nicely framed and usually filled with thematic marginal drawings, which is a very nice touch.
I think this is probably the most literate children's book I've read. The first line of most pages always includes some brief alliteration, beginning with the opening lines.
>In the days when monsters and giants and fairy folk lifvind in England, a noble knight was riding across a plain.
>The dreadful dragon was the cause of her sorrow.
>After many days the path became thorny and led up to a steep hillside, where a good old hermit lived in a little house by himself.
>It is time for me to tell you that you were not born of fairy folk, but of English earth.
>Then they heard a hideous roaring that filled the air with terror and seemed to shake the ground.
>The knight brandished his bright blade, and it seemed sharper than ever, his hands even stronger.
There is just enough to create the effect without going overboard. Sometimes, at key points, the alliteration is stepped up to alert the reader to pay attention.
>In his tail's end, two sharp stings were fixed. But sharper still were his cruel claws. Whatever he touched or drew within those claws was in deadly danger. His head was more hideous than tongue can tell, for his deep jaws gaped wide, showing three rows of iron teeth read to devour his prey.
There are also instances of anaphora
>Once more the Red Cross Knight mounted and attacked the dragon. Once more in vain.
internal rhyme
>Yet the beast had never before felt such a mighty stroke from the hand of any man, and he was furious for revenge.
and Homeric similes.
>Like a sailor long at sea, under stormy winds and fierce sun, who begins to whistle merrily when he sees land, so Una was thankful.
These are all tropes I would have pointed out when I was teaching Medieval and Renaissance Lit. and are spread thinly enough not to be over done. They are in fact very appropriate to the material, being standard Anglo-Saxon techniques. The surrounding prose is also extremely well written. There were only three alliterations which I felt were overdone, but-hey-that's also true for equivalent portions of Beowulf!
I can't think of a better introduction to the dragonslayer genre.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very old favorite..., November 7, 2000
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This review is from: Saint George and the Dragon (Paperback)
When I was 7, my family moved to Georgia (I'm an Air Force brat); our library in Georgia had a copy of Saint George and the Dragon. Until we moved when I was 10, I checked this book out repeatedly, read it repeatedly, traced the illustrations repeatedly, and fell asleep with it, only to check it out again on our next trip to the library. I am now 14, and about to get this book for my 5 (almost 6) year old brother. Raised on Narnia, Middle Earth, and Fairy Land, I am a firm believer in dragons, unicorns, faery, gnomes, and an even firmer believer in their place in childrens books. This is a beautiful, beautiful book, the kind of book every child deserves.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Incredible illustrations, entertaining enough to keep the attention of a 2 1/2 year old, November 26, 2005
This review is from: Saint George and the Dragon (Paperback)
(My mom is writing this, as I am only 2 1/2 and she is too lazy to sign in under her own name!)

My mom found this book at the bookstore and was enchanted by the incredibly detailed, illuminating illustrations. Being a fan of fantasy stories, she skimmed it in the bookstore and as Grammy was on a buying spree for her only grandchild, this book also was purchased.

Surprisingly for mom, I loved this book! I'm fascinated by the story, particularly the lamb and dwarf carrying food and the dragon's injured tail. I will sit quietly as it is read aloud, though I occasionally ask where the dragon is during the slow beginning. I am not alarmed by the violence (perhaps due to not understanding it fully?) though I clearly recognize that George "cut off his tail," and have suggested bandaids for it. I do get a little bored with all the marriage talk at the end, though.

Mom recommends this book, with the caveat that it is a little wordy for young readers and though trying to stay true to the story while keeping it brief, does not capture as much of the motivation/emotion behind the actions. In addition, there are some passages that could have been written with more fluid language that is just as or more vivid. Tired mom has tripped over some passages before.

She has now read this book at least daily for the past week and a half and is in search of other dragon books, hopefully with dragons on every page.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spenser's "The Faerie Queen", May 27, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Saint George and the Dragon (Paperback)
This children's book is a retelling of the story from "The Faerie Queen" by Edmund Spencer (c. 1552-1599) about the Red Cross knight George (who really lived and who died about 303 A. D.). The Red Cross Knight (the basis of the red cross in the Union Jack) accompanies the Princess Una and succeeds in slaying a dragon that had been besieging the castle of Una's father. Teachers may consider recalling for their classes that Spenser's tale is allegorical in nature in which George represented the Church, Una represented Truth, and the dragon represented Error. This can lead to discussions of other works of literature. The book was beautifully illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman and it won the 1985 Caldecott Medal for best illustration in a children's book. Children always seem to enjoy reading this story.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Children's Book Ever, May 1, 2004
By 
Andy (Pittsburgh, PA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Saint George and the Dragon (Paperback)
This is perhaps the first book I ever truly loved. At sixteen, it seems almost strange that I should find myself writing a review of a children's book, but it was just that good, that memorable, and that much a part of my childhood. As probably the only person to comment on this after having read it as a child, I think that this book is one of those children's books that is so very memorable; I would even compare this book to the famous "Goodnight Moon". The illustrations are absolutely beautiful, and the story is enchanting and enthralling. It is in essence the perfect children's book, and practically made me fall in love with reading.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Introduction to literature for young readers, December 1, 1999
By 
Margreta Grady (Bossier City, LA) - See all my reviews
My four year old son picked this out and he and I both love it. The prose is a pleasure to read aloud. The writing is very detailed, and this is echoed in the wonderful illustrations. This is a very good first introduction to a longer or more complex book for four and five year olds, and presents many opportunities for further discussion. As a mom who has spent many hours reading aloud, I can't speak highly enough of this book.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great introduction to folklore!, April 21, 2000
By 
Angela Trent (Jenks, Oklahoma) - See all my reviews
This book is an excellent example of figurative and descriptive language. I just read it to my 6th grader language arts students to go along with our unit on folklore. I can see many different lessons that could come from this one book, enough on which to develop a mini-unit. I don't know if it's well-suited for 4-8 year olds, but it really is a great learning tool for 6th graders who are studying folklore and/or the middle ages!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars not a two or three star book, August 20, 2010
I used to own this book back in 1986 when I was in Kindergarten and I loved it. It is the reason I read books. One owner says this book scared their kid. I believe they have been sheltering their kid way too much. One reviewer said that this is not a true "Saint George" story. That person is an idiot, its a fictional children's book. Even I knew that when I was six. Somebody else said it was too short and too simple of a story. Again I must state that this is a CHILDREN'S book. As I state in the title of my review, this is not a two or three star book, those reviews come from two or three star owners. When I was six I could barely read this book but the ilistrations were so good that they made me want to learn how to read. So, I would have my parents read this to me every night while I practiced reading along with them. Buy this book for your children, not for yourself hoping for a fairy tale novel. Not for wriging a report on the real Saint George. And not if you are raising a sheltered child scared of an illistration in a book.
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Saint George and the Dragon
Saint George and the Dragon by Margaret Hodges (Paperback - September 4, 1990)
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