Princess Ingeborg enjoys many comforts in life – beautiful dresses to wear, dancing lessons, and lots of books to read. But her parents are too busy running the kingdom to spend time with her, and her older brothers are always off questing, so she often feels lonely. Esmeralda, a young dragon out for her first flight, becomes curious about the little human sitting alone in a garden. She decides to approach her, and they become friends. Ingeborg accepts an invitation from Esmeralda’s mother to come visit; she loves playing with the dragon-children, who teach her to hunt crawdads and to swim. But the king and queen jump to frightening conclusions about the dragons’ intentions – and mayhem erupts.
I have always been a reader of children’s literature – that’s where much of the best fantasy writing appears. But the children’s books I read in the late 1970s and early ’80s seemed deficient in strong female protagonists. So I decided to write a feminist fairy tale with lots of dragons, the favored creatures in my personal zodiac.
The notion of a princess with an extraordinarily long name who is called by an unrelated nickname tickled my whimsy. And the choice of “Ingeborg” as that nickname fulfilled one of the deepest desires of my 4½-year-old self.
In the early1950s, only about 10 percent of American households owned a television set. My dad worked three jobs to support us, but he was thrilled with the new technology and bought a diminutive TV set for our cramped, one-bedroom Chicago apartment. My favorite program was “Mama,” a heartwarming series about a family of Norwegian immigrants circa 1900. Cousin Ingeborg, played by Patty McCormack, entranced me with her beautiful long, blond braids – something I had never seen on my Italian cousins or my playmates in our predominantly Jewish neighborhood.
When my parents told me that we’d soon have a new baby I begged them, if it were a girl, to name her Ingeborg. I somehow thought that bestowing that name would give the baby long blond hair. On the night my father phoned me at Uncle Geno’s to tell me I had a new sister, I remember eagerly asking, “Did you name her Ingeborg?” – and the crushing disappointment when he said no.
I still think Ingeborg Zomparelli would have made an utterly cool name – and if my parents had agreed, I’m certain my sister never would have forgiven us. Many years later I conjured up an Ingeborg of my own, a caring and courageous little girl – with brown hair.
Ingeborg lived for many years in my filing cabinet, waiting for someone to illustrate her story. I found that illustrator in Andrea Strongwater, whom I initially met as a neighbor on my dorm corridor at Cornell University. I was taking poetry and English classes, and she was majoring in fine arts. We reconnected at various events a few times over the years.
At a Christmas 2016 party thrown by a mutual friend, I casually asked Andrea what she was working on. “I’m illustrating children’s books now,” she said.
“That’s interesting,” I replied. “I have a children’s book I’d like to get illustrated . . . . ”
We’re planning to collaborate on future adventures for Ingeborg and Esmeralda.
Must read for kids of all ages; sweet, sweet book. Lovely, clever book by a very talented author. Delightful drawings, too. Can’t wait to read it to a 6-year-old niece. I’m sure she’ll enjoy it as much as I did! And I’m already looking forward to a follow-up book with more adventures of Princess Ingeborg and her dragon friends. This should be on every child’s bookshelf.
Great book for girls AND boys! There are so many princess books out there. SO many. And this one stands out above most...! Why? The princess is a kind and bold leader for her people who doesn't need a love interest. She forms friendships with dragons, who are feared and despised by her people, seeing through the lies that have been told about them. She is selected as queen over her older brother against the traditions of her people because she is kinder, wiser and more valiant than he. This is a great book for my daughter AND my son -- both of whom need to see strong female leaders and role models in books. Such a lovely little book!
A clever fairytale for modern girls (and boys!) I enjoyed this delightful tale! The author reinterprets mythical motifs in a clever, meaningful, and modern way. Children and parents will enjoy the fun story and enchanting illustrations. 5 stars!
A rare children's book that leaves everyone wanting to hear more This happened to be one of those very rare books that kept us all engaged, regardless of age, gender, or preferences for books otherwise, which happen to be very different... My son (8) particularly enjoyed the humor in it and I think he wasn’t expecting to enjoy the book about a princess as much as he did. He also really likes to experiment with language so appreciated (my words) the language of the book (he said: the book is written for smart kids, not babies 🙂 My daughter (almost 6) absolutely loved everything about the book: the dragons, the princess, the gorgeous pictures. The kids didn’t let me put it down and immediately asked if there is the next story. I personally enjoyed the language and the story-line which is not the usual princess story! Jokes and metaphors in particular kept me chuckling. I really think it is a terrific book to read with kids and it will grow with them. We all found a gem in it! Will there be a sequel?
The story not only is a wonderful tale of a young girl's adventures and friendship with ... After reading this lovely book, I purchased several for my grandchildren, and grandnieces and grandnephews. The story not only is a wonderful tale of a young girl's adventures and friendship with a dinosaur family, but it seamlessly weaves in many life lessons.
Medieval twittering connects this story to modern life! This is a sweet story with a young princess as the independent strong female role model. One of the highlights is that the princess has dear friends, the dragons, that are very different from her. There are some wonderful messages in this book. The beautiful illustrations are made with deep rich colors fitting of a royal storybook. There are also amusing suggestions of "chirping" (medieval twittering) and DFF (Dragon friends forever). An enjoyable story children will love.
I’m thrilled to see a story about a princess who isn’t blond and beautiful, and who even wears jeans and T-shirts. In the midst of today’s princess craze, we need more heroines like Ingeborg, who are celebrated for their inner qualities, not what they look like.
I loved it! . . . Can you read it again?
Here is a children’s fantasy for our time: A female heroine—a princess—finds fun and serious support from an alien race of beings, and then, through acts of kindness, wins the love of her subjects to become the ruler of her own land. The humor and tenderness of Princess Ingeborg and the Dragons will delight any child—as well as any adult reading the book aloud at story time.
I thought it was very funny, and the dragons were very friendly and kind.
A joy from start to finish, beautifully paced and cadenced, with real wit, whimsy, and wisdom too.
I think it’s really cool that the story is inspirational that you can be friends with whoever you want to.
It’s an awesome book! I liked everything about it!