Princess Ingeborg
and the Dragons

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Princess Ingeborg and the Dragons is available for purchase online through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Mascot Books. You can also order it through your favorite independent bookstore.

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About the Book

The Story

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.

How Ingeborg Got Her Name

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.

Illustration by Andrea Strongwater

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 agreed that night to explore a partnership, and within weeks I was looking at wonderful sketches for my story. Andrea immediately grasped my concepts for the characters and plot, came up with just the right style, and brought a magical sense of color to the artwork.

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