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THERE BE DRAGONS

Medieval Times produced many fantasies built on superstitions and ignorance.Ignorance in its true meaning: lack of knowledge or information. Medieval explorers would find large bones and conclude that they were from dragons. No one knew about dinosaurs.

The Book of Revelation, Holy Bible, referenced a beast coming up from the sea with seven heads and ten horns; on the horns were ten crowns. He was given the name ‘blasphemy’.  It was further described being like a leopard, feet like a bear and mouth like a lion. The Book of Job, Holy Bible, depicts a large beast of spectacular proportions called leviathan that travels on land and in the sea. It further describes the creature as scaly, shooting fire from his nostrils and mouth. A behemoth pictured as a monstrous herbivore.

Since these descriptions were found in the Bible, early Christians purported that dragons did exist. In Medieval Times the church rose to powerful authority and the masses believed all their doctrines. Stories arose of knights slaying dragons, e.g., St. George and his battle with a dragon. Since Bible prophecy was still dimly lit, the ecclesiastical teachers remained fans of actual dragons.

Kings sponsored many crusades: a journey from their kingdom to the Holy Land to fight against the infidels.  Basically, the crusades were religious wars with Christians trying to regain lands taken from them. Many pictures show armor-clad knights carrying shields and banners. The shields might picture crosses, and the banners might represent the king who sent them. Stories were brought back of many strange sights, including unnamed animals.

Dragons do exist. But, perhaps, not as colorfully depicted as in earlier times. We may never see a Jabberwocky outside of the pages of Lewis Carroll’s Alice In Wonderland or an enchanted beast who turns back into prince charming in Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve’s Beauty and the Beast fairy tale. But the World of Disney does its best to keep our imaginings alive.

THERE BE DRAGONS.

The Komodo Dragon on the Komodo Island, Indonesia. Its bite is fatal to humans. The male can reach 200 pounds and his only known predator is another Komodo dragon. The little guy below fits one of the criteria: he spits death from his mouth. He may look like a pink caterpillar walking on rubber stilts, but he is definitely on steroids. Death shoots from his mouth in the form of cyanide. From one end of the spectrum to the other, large and small, dragons do exist.

In our book Blaze the Dragon, the Adventures of Ra-me the Traveling Troubadour Book 2, we can see King Lister commanding Ra-me’s father to force Ra-me to accept the invitation to play at Dragon Village for the young dragon heir. Ra-me’s father is the king’s vassal, living on fief from the monarch, and is obligated to obey. The dragons must stay appeased.

Blaze the Dragon was to be thirteen and Father Inferno Dragon wanted an unusual entertainment for his son. What more unusual entertainment in a dragon village than to have the King’s own troubadour giving a concert. Of course, concessions had to be made. Ra-me’s safety had to be guaranteed.  So, with the confidence of youth and a free-pass in his pocket, Ra-me rides his mule to dragon village. Of course, he was promised a bag of gems.

A problem arises and the birthday dragon loses his ability to throw flames, not even a spark with which to light the candles on his birthday cake. When the other dragons fail to remedy the catastrophe, Father Inferno demands Ra-me heal Blaze’s affliction. Ra-me strums and plucks magic with the strings of his lute, and all ends well.

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Depiction of Pirates in Children’s Literature

Depiction of Pirates in Children’s Literature

The third installment of the Adventures of Ra-me the Traveling Troubadour book series follows Ra-me in his adventure to saving princess Lulu Belle from the sea villain, Mudcat the Pirate. Throughout literary history, pirates are one of the most favorite villains in fiction books. Children, particularly, are interested in these nefarious characters. For this reason, pirate-themed stories have become popular in children’s literature over the decades. Pirates became patronized characters in the different sub-genres of children’s books including picture books, folklore, fantasy, historical fiction, and realistic fiction.

The depiction of pirates in children’s books is inconsistent, however. Some books portray them as the historical villains that commonly terrorize voyage and merchant ships on the sea. Meanwhile, other books romanticize them as the dashing and daring swashbucklers. With this, let us examine the various depictions of pirates in children’s literature.

Pirates in History

Pirates are maritime bandits who commonly hijack and detain ships on the seas. Sometimes, they even ravage coastal towns in search of resources. During the medieval period, the most widely known pirates in the West were the Vikings. They were seaborne warriors who pillaged Europe and horrified voyagers, merchants, noblemen, and commoners. They were very skilled at shipbuilding, which made them powerful combatants at sea. Historically, the Vikings were considered as the savage pirates. They were involved in a number of atrocities including mass murders, and they raided and looted many European countries such as England, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Russia, and Spain.

Just like the Vikings, the majority of other pirates around the world had the reputation of being savage criminals. A great deal of historical evidence shows that these predators of the high seas committed lots of horrifying atrocities, the most common of which were rape, murder, theft, arson, and torture. Among the high seas buccaneers, the most atrocious in history was, perhaps, the legendary pirate, Blackbeard. Blackbeard, whose real name was Edward Teach, was an English pirate who terrorized much of America and the West Indies. He had the reputation of being the fiercest and most terrifying pirate ever. He spent his years navigating the sea, raiding ships and stealing their wealth. He was also an untamed murderer who strangled every woman he captured and killed every person who provoked him, including his own crew members.

Pirates in Children’s Literature

Early on, popular literature portrayed pirates according to their historical archetypes. They were frequently depicted as greedy and mean-spirited buccaneers who loved to fight their sea enemies and locate hidden treasures. Stereotypical illustrations of pirates commonly showed them with shabby medieval clothing, a bandana, and an eye-patch. They usually carried with them a flintlock pistol or a cutlass for fighting. Due to their daring manner, they were also sometimes illustrated with battle scars, rotten or missing teeth, and prosthetic limbs.

Alternatively, however, despite the historically negative connotations that come with their name, pirates surprisingly became protagonists in a number of fictional books. They became the cool characters that people, especially children, come to love. From ruthless thieves and murderers, pirates are now largely depicted as the free-spirited adventurers with admirable glamour and bravado. Books, plays, and films romanticize them for their bold manners and raucous living, even making them a raffish symbol for adventure and freedom.

The seeming admiration for maritime pirates in literature began more than a hundred years ago when books centered on pirate adventures burgeoned. Literary works such as The Life, Adventures, and Piracies of the Famous Captain Singleton (1720), The Pirates of Penzance (1879), The Black Corsair (1898), and On Stranger Tides (1987) put the characters of pirates in a positive light. Today, the most popular pirate-themed children’s books are arguably the ones in Rob Kidd’s Pirate of the Caribbean series. They follow the adventures of the legendary pirate, Jack Sparrow, who possesses a frisky flamboyance and a clever wit. Altogether, these books changed the way pirates are depicted in children’s literature.

Mudcat the Pirate

Mudcat the Pirate, which is the third book in The Adventures of Ra-me the Traveling Troubadour series, veers away from the popular modern depiction of pirates in children’s literature. Like the old times, it portrays pirates as maritime bandits with evil intentions and ventures. Its plot centers on the adventures of Ra-me as he chases after the sea villain, Mudcat the Pirate, who kidnapped the festival princess, Miss Lulu Belle.

As a children’s book, Mudcat the Pirate tries to appeal to the young taste by incorporating history, fantasy, and fun into it. It brings back the hype over medieval fairy tales without subscribing to a wrong depiction of personas just to appease the need of young readers for cool characters. Ultimately, Mudcat the Pirate is a historically correct literary work suitable for both children and adults. It is a book full of truth, fun, magic, and imagination.