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Posts Tagged ‘fantasy stories’

You. Yes, you! I challenge you… to write a poem!

This is based on a school framework that helps kids who think they aren’t poetic, to write poetry. It has lots of blanks to fill in. The empty framework looks something like this:

The Animal In Me, by (Name)

There is a (animal) in me with (animal part) like (simile) and (animal part) like (simile).

It (sound) like (simile). It (movement) like (simile).

It lives in my (human body part) and makes me (feeling or reaction).

(Choose one)

I wish (__________________________) OR

It makes me want to (_____________________) OR

It makes me feel like (_____________________).

So based on this, here’s what I did along with the students.

THE DRAGON IN ME, by Ms. F.

There is a dragon in me with wings like banners and scales like mosaic armor.

It roars like a geyser. It soars like a queen of the sky.

It lives in my heart and makes me fearless.

It makes me feel like I can do anything. 

So, friends — I challenge you! Put your animal-inside poem in the comments.

Ready? Go!

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In my other life, I’m a support staffer in public schools, and I often work with children who are somewhere in the Autism/Asperger’s Spectrum. I was thinking about creating a board game that would help the kids learn social skills, but decided to search first and see if such a think already existed. Am I glad that I did!

Ryuu is a card game that combines collectible cards with features of role-playing games to teach social skills. Players choose a dragon that they identify with based on their own situations. Through role-playing, they recognize Dark Forces that illustrate problematic behaviors, and try to rally Light Forces that embody coping strategies. They begin as eggs and can “evolve” their dragon by practicing social skills. Feel free to check it out here.

A few of the dragon characters include Remota, who feels like a stranger among her fellow dragons, and Oratar, who talks a lot but has a hard time listening. The Dark Forces include Rigidity and Indifference. These are countered by Light Forces of Flexibility and Empathy. Like all card games, there are many details and abilities for players to track, but they still can mix up the deck with different cards and try new things even if they usually play with a small group such as in a school Resource Room.

There are four versions of the Ryuu game, starting with Concentration-style matching of Light and Dark Forces and progressing to full-fledged role playing that demands a lot of preparation by Game Masters and cooperation from players. Thus the game is accessible for all ages, and players don’t have to be diagnosed with Autism/Asperger’s. For instance, an Oppositional/Defiant kid might identify with Xplotar, whose temper runs amok. Play is based on the kid’s behaviors rather than their diagnosis.

Price-wise, the cost is fairly reasonable. The starter set of two decks, rules, and a support CD comes in at $55.00, right in line with a starter Magic set. Booster packs are $20.00, with the actual quantity of cards not specified. However, because this is such a specialty product, you’re not likely to have the issues with price spikes on rare cards that you get with Magic, Yu-Gi-Oh, or Pokemon.

So if you have a young family member with social-skill issues, or you work with such kids, Ryuu sounds like it could be a big winner.

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Well, well. After all these ‘true dragons’ coming around, I suppose I hardly qualify to talk at all. But old Nisha*, she knows a thing or two.

What do you mean, I’m not a dragon? You humans — always thinking you have the right to name things. You invaders might have driven the dragons out of the Cragmaw Mountains, but I’m still here. So stop interrupting and you might learn something.

I’m sure you heard Cazarluun going on about the grand myth of draconic origins. Me, I’m more interested in dragonkind continuing into the future. The constellations that matter to me are somewhat… basic.

Take the one you named “Leo.” To us dragons, that’s The Horse. It’s one of our favorite foods. What you call “Ursa Major and Minor” are The Bison and Calf. “Monoceros?” The Antelope. All of them are delicious meals. You see, the purpose of the constellations is to show us dragons what’s safe to eat. I trust you’ve noted that I haven’t named any of the human-like figures as a food. Frankly, there’s not enough meat on a human to be worth hunting. Except for hatchlings, of course.

Well, aren’t you clever? Yes I did say “us dragons.” I can see you don’t believe it. A harmless old lady like me! Just sit there for a minute and I’ll show you. Perhaps you’d like to meet my hatchlings?

* Old Nisha, a.k.a. Carnisha, is the main character in my short story, “Hoard,” published last year in the anthology The Dragon’s Hoard, edited by Gabrielle Harbowy, for Sky Warrior Books.

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I’m bringing you a blast from the past today, a rare example of Victorian children’s writing that has survived to the modern day. Edith Nesbit was British, born in 1858, and a life-long rebel. She married a socialist writer and was involved in the political causes of the day, including women’s suffrage and worker rights. She was a shocking figure who smoked in public, wore her hair short, and generally showed disdain for Victorian social conventions.

Nesbit began selling poetry at age 15 and continued all her life. It’s a mark of her strong personality that she wrote under her own name rather than her husband’s, which would have been Mrs. Hubert Bland. Yet it’s also telling that she chose to conceal her gender by using her initial, E. Nesbit. Even today, some of our greatest women writers, like C. J. Cherryh and J. K. Rowling, do the same thing.

Amid the constant scramble of writing to keep her family fed, Edith Nesbit made a pioneering contribution to children’s literature. In 1890 there was very little writing specifically for children, and that was mostly sermonizing about how to live a proper British life. Nesbit combined fantasy — fairy tales were big in Victorian literature — with more realistic elements of child behavior and modern life. She referred to real places, such as Crystal Palace, and her child characters were often naughty before their basic goodness won out.

The Book of Dragons is a collection of Nesbit’s short stories, all combining kids, magic, and dragons. Remember that this is Victorian literature. There’s a lot of passive voice. Characters are either good or evil, and not much suspense about the outcomes. All the dragons have just one goal: to eat everyone in the world. Yet Nesbit has great verve, humor, and invention. In many ways, her stories reads like precursors to Roald Dahl and the Oz series of her contemporary, L. Frank Baum.

Of the eight short stories collected here, “The Island of the Nine Whirlpools” is a favorite. A loyal queen is sent to visit a witch by her husband, a stern and unloving enchanter/king. The queen asks to get a baby, sort of like ordering draperies for the palace, but makes a small omission and receives a girl instead of a boy. The king is irate and basically never forgives the queen. The tale strikes me as a poignant comment on women’s lives in the Victorian Era, when men owned everything and women and children struggled to be heard.

Although popular in her time, Nesbit is no longer well known. Her works do survive in “classics” editions by Dell Yearling, or you might find her in a used book store near you. If you like Baum or Dahl, they’ll be worth the hunt.

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Greetings, mortals. It is I, Cazarluun the Majestic, Guardian of Venge Hill and Defender of the Light. As a true dragon*, I shall enlighten you on the nature of the constellations.

Mortals have given various names to those figures drawn by the stars. They are a hobjob, frankly, of humans, animals and fantastic beasts, all tossed upward with no rhyme or reason. Allow me to explain that there is, in fact, a solemn story written in the heavens.

Let us begin with what you call “Cepheus,” a supposed king among humans. Look carefully at the shape, flat on one end and pointed on the other. You will see, as we dragons do, that this is The Egg, and it lies at the center of our most sacred legend.

Near The Egg is a longer, twisting shape called “Draco” by humans. In this case, you’re very close. Mother Dragon is her name, and she keeps watch to protect her precious egg against any who would harm it.

Beyond The Egg is what you call “Cygnus the Swan.” To us this is The Heron, Mother Dragon’s trusted companion. Finally, you have dubbed another extended constellation as “Hydra.” In fact, this is Father Dragon, hunting food for his beloved mate.

As the story tells, many animals had heard that Mother Dragon was guarding a great treasure. They thought it was gold or a talisman of power. In fact, it was far more precious — it was The Egg. Mother Dragon did her best to drive them away, but there were too many of them. She grew exhausted by her efforts. The Heron flew to find Father Dragon, who returned just in time to stop the greedy animals from stealing The Egg.

Be grateful, mortals, that I have shared such wisdom with you. 

* Cazarluun is another dragon character who appears in Lucy D. Ford’s forthcoming short story collection.

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Today I’m sharing an advance review by a young reader. It appeared in the blog of a friend, Jennifer M. Eaton. Her son reviewed the book, Dragons Vs. Drones, by Wesley King. Just the title makes me want this book, and a review straight from the audience is great to hear.

Check it out here.

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Giant dragon statues seem to be a thing in Britain these days. Another large advertising sculpture was unveiled at Caerphilly Castle in Wales on March 1st. In this installation, the head, claws and wingtips of a big red dragon appear to emerge from the moat of the picturesque Medieval castle. With golden glass eyes and steam wafting from the nostrils, it’s a truly amazing sight.

The pieces were made by Wild Creations, a prop maker based in Cardiff. It took about six weeks to model, mold the fiberglass, and paint the set. The same company also created an installation at Cardiff Castle last year, which appears to show a giant rugby ball embedded in the castle wall.

It’s all part of Cadw’s Historic Adventures, a tourism campaign aimed at promoting visits to Wales’ historic castles. If it wasn’t on the far side of an ocean, it would sure work on me!

Check out the full article, with progress photos, here.

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