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“The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart” by Stephanie Burgis

--Staff Picks Kids

The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart

Stephanie Burgis
Published: 2017
Age Range: 9 and Up
Genre: Fantasy, Adventure, Cooking
Awards: Cybils Award for Elementary/Middle Grade Speculative Fiction 2017

Colleen read The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart and this is what she thought…

Aventurine is a dragon, the fiercest thing in her mountains, but her family will not let her leave their cave until she is stronger. She sets off on her own to prove she is ready, only to be tricked by a food mage! The magic-wielding human uses hot chocolate to turn her human. How will she fare in the human world? I was enchanted by this book from the first page. A dragon narrator makes descriptions of everyday things from human culture fun, like calling eyebrows “furry lines.” The setting is the human city of Drachenburg and the time period is the 19th century, based on the prevalence of child apprentices, horse drawn carriages, and chamber pots.

My favorite character is Aventurine because I enjoyed her internal monologue – particularly her regular threats to eat rude individuals. I was reminded of A Dragon’s Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans by Laurence Yep. Aventurine finds her passion, amazingly, in the human world and it is – chocolate! The novel is full to the brim with delicious details of how to make chocolate confections. Our protagonist is aided by Marina, a brusk chocolatier who values dedication over status, and Silke, a cunning and streetwise young woman dressed in trousers.

The theme of the novel is believing in yourself and persevering when you make mistakes. After a chaotic event at her chocolate shop, Marina shares advice based on her own past missteps. I appreciated that Burgis created a network of friends for her protagonist to learn from. Aventurine builds herself family in the human world and dragons protect their family.

Who would you recommend this book to?

The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart is a gripping tale that will be beloved by all fantasy fans. This a chapter book that I would recommend for ages 9 and up. Despite the magic leaping off every page, the book is also a relatable coming-of-age tale. The protagonist is a twelve-year-old (as a human at least), who is learning a new skill, how to make friends, and ways to communicate with her family.

Gobble up the whole series! The sequel is The Girl with the Dragon Heart and the final installment is The Princess who Flew with Dragons.