Take the runaway adventures of an orphaned country girl and throw in a half-dozen dragons, a handsome young nobleman, an evil princess and a pair of magic slippers. With all the ingredients of a tried-and-true fairy tale, author Jessica Day George has cooked up Dragon Slippers, a magical, fun-filled page-turner for middle-grade readers that's a far cry from an old-school Cinderella story.

When Creelisel Creel Carlbrun's dimwitted aunt asks Creel to sacrifice herself to a dragon in the caves near their village, the niece really doesn't mind. Everyone knows there hasn't been a dragon in those caves, or anywhere else in the kingdom of Carlieff, in hundreds of years. Creel plans to use the sacrifice as a ploy to run off to the city, making a new life as a fine seamstress for the gentlewomen of the kingdom.

The elderly and cranky dragon that captures the young seamstress at the cave is hardly a ferocious monster, but Creel is still in big trouble. Talking fast, she persuades the dragon to release her, bartering for a beautiful and seemingly worthless pair of blue slippers from the dragon's hoard of shoes. Creel's skill at thinking on her feet and her independent spirit lead her on many adventures in this fast-paced novel, and it's those dragon slippers that cause most of her problems. Ultimately the girl finds herself, and her treasured blue slippers, in the middle of a raging war that pits the good folks of Carlieff against a nearby kingdom armed with a battalion of dragons under the spell of Creel's nemesis selfish, hateful Princess Amalia.

How did Creel get into the middle of this? Can she help save the kingdom of Carlieff? What do those slippers have to do with this terrible war? Grab a copy of Dragon Slippers to find out. But don't expect everything to find everything wrapped up in a nice tidy bow. Just when it looks like George has everyone living happily ever after, a new dilemma lands at Creel's doorstep and she's on her way again. Hopefully the author will spin that quest into another fantastic fable.

Freelance writer Robin Wright Gunn lives a fairy-tale life in Savannah, Georgia.

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