The Dragon Test

by June Crebbin and Polly Dunbar (Walker Books London 2003)

peace with ourselves-peace with each other

recommended but unavailable - maybe a copy in your local library


Dragons are supposed to be dangerous, that is if you are familiar with the story of 'St George and the Dragon'. Within this simply presented publication lies a story that will enchant you and challenge your beliefs about dragons, even real ones and how to capture them. This surprisingly wonderful story for all ages to enjoy and share together contains many peace-building elements:

  • happy endings

  • everyone winning

  • nonviolent resolution

  • imaginative and creative

  • challenges existing stereotyping

  • faith and hope

  •     peace with the environment

  • finding personal peace

  •     Ö..and element that supports the idea that peace is possible

As in the story of Herb, a little girl becomes the hero in the unfolding adventure. A little princess is sent away from her family as she must learn skills that will assist her to pass the 'dragon test'. But, in order to pass the test, a captured dragon must be brought back to the castle alive, then afterwards it should be returned unharmed to the wild.

The little princess remains in communication with her parents informing them of all she has learnt and discovered while she is away from them. She also shares her fear of taking her horse, which is even terrified of rabbits, into the hills to find a dragon.

A sudden twist in the story reveals that the little princess has to use all her special skills as she becomes the one who is captured. Ah but she learns the power of storytelling and magically turns her plight around by capturing the dragon's heart.

Challenging many beliefs this amazing little story truly delivers a very special message about the magical transformative power of storytelling.

How does the story end???

The happy ending in this story does involve everyone winning even the dragon.

But also there are many other essential peace-building elements inherent in this wonderful story.

There is no sense or need for violence, killing or death that we so often read in stories involving dragons being captured by heroic knights intent upon saving princesses.

Traditional stereotyping is challenged at many levels.

The princess becomes friends with her dragon and she names him Arthur and begins creating new stories for him that present dragons as heroes.....

and she states:

"All that silly nonsense about eating me is forgotten!"

Critical questions to explore with children

  • What test did the princess have to pass?
  • How did she communicate with the king and queen?
  • What things did she have to remember in order to pass the test?
  • Why did a dragon capture the princess and what did he want?
  • Did the princess want to be rescued?
  • What did the king do about the situation? Was he worried about his daughterís safety?
  • How did the princess solve her dilemma?
  • Did the princess pass the dragon test?
  • Does the story have a happy win-win ending?

Creative questions to explore with children

  • Do you think the princes also had to pass the same test?
  • Why do you think the princess didnít have to slay a dragon?
  • What other things could have been included in the test?
  • Do you think the dragon was brave and like other dragons?
  • Do you think all dragons would like to hear stories?
  • What would you have done if the dragon had captured you?
  • Do you think the princess should have tried to escape?
  • How else could the story have ended with win-win?

© Teaching and Learning for Peace Foundation February 2005

return to story list

return to noticeboard