Saturday, April 9, 2016

Freya and the Dragon Egg

Penndorf, K.W. (2015). Freya and the Dragon Egg. Yardley, PA: Open Door Publications.

Middle Grade / Fantasy / Mythology

I gave this book 4 out of 5 Stars

Scroll Down to For Author Q&A Session!

Blurb: Freya’s family is wonderful. Just not to her. After all, her older sister loves to talk about “pulling a Freya” – a term for any mistake she makes, her younger sister publicly reads from Freya’s diary without being reprimanded, and her parents barely notice her. All that changes when her father, Denmark’s renowned Viking archeologist, asks her to hide a precious artifact where no one will ever find it – including himself. Freya jumps at the chance to prove her worth and ends up being transported to a magical land filled with real Vikings, a clan of sprites, and a Berserk. In search of a way home, Freya unearths a realm of adventure and a path to greatness she is sure her family will revere. Freya and the Dragon Egg is the first in this new series.
HALL WAYS REVIEW: In Freya and the Dragon Egg, author K.W. Penndorf gives readers a wonderfully spunky, smart, and ever-so-sassy protagonist, Freya, who is misunderstood and desperately wants to feel important within her family. As the middle child, Freya often feels overlooked or over-scrutinized, but rarely does she feel special. As the story unfolds, Freya's personality is also allowed to unfold, and her strengths and intelligence begin to shine. Penndorf does a great job of keeping Freya a realistic character, as she also allows Freya's inner dialogue to reveal Freya's fears and truths -- often humorously. There are times when Freya gets righteously indignant about something and says she would NEVER do such and such, but at the same time she is thinking to herself of all the exceptions of when she has actually done such and such after all.  

As Freya and readers are taken into another realm, Penndorf builds incredible worlds around Viking lore, magic and magical creatures, and battles.  The characters she puts into this world are fleshed-out and memorable, and readers will have clear feelings of loving or loathing them.  The pace is steady and then the action really picks up about three fourths of the way into the book. For me, the story wrapped-up a little too quickly where more detail of the execution of Freya's plans and what happened in Ragnar's thorpe would have really enriched the story; in particular, I expected more dragon and hope to have more in the next book.

The writing was well-done and Penndorf uses high level vocabulary to tell the story. Penndorf wrote the dialogue realistically to show the contrast between how someone from the modern world and someone from Viking times would talk. Younger readers may struggle with some of the dialogue, but it was a good choice for the story.  As an adult reading the story, I found that there were a lot of plot holes and unrealistic events and reactions which readers were expected to just accept and forget. However, I doubt that the target audience will notice these issues; nor is it likely they'll notice the typos and errors sprinkled throughout the book, all easily fixed by another editing sweep. I really like the cover of this book, but I wonder if anyone besides me wondered about the size of the egg on the cover versus what Freya does with the egg in the story.

I recommend this book for strong upper elementary readers and middle-graders, and sensitive readers should be warned that there is death in this book and some of the battle scenes get a little descriptive. Thank you to the author for providing me a print copy in exchange for my honest opinion -- the only kind I give. I look forward to reading the next installment of Freya's adventures!


Watch the Book Trailer:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Story time had always been KW Penndorf’s favorite ‘subject’ in school. But when her second grade teacher opted to read from a tattered old diary, KW’s view on books changed forever. Books were now alive, with adventures, dilemmas, far away locations, heroes, villains, drama, and quite frankly, story. Everything was so real, well at least in her imagination at any rate. She wanted to live in those stories… and she has. 

In her senior year of high school KW interned at CBS three days a week, making sure to keep her grades up or the gig would be off. By sheer nature of the job, stories surrounded her there. In college, she spent a semester abroad living with her sister and brother-in-law in Denmark – where, yes, one can only imagine the crazy stories two sisters conjured up! Then after college, she moved to Germany and at the age of 25 she opened her own company – a language school, full of (you guessed it) stories abound. At 29 she moved back to the States, bringing home with her the greatest story and souvenir ever – her husband.
On a train ride into NYC, a vision came to KW’s sleepy commuter mind: a girl finding a dragon egg in the middle of a Viking graveyard. Presto! The premise for her debut novel was born. A story, which KW hopes, will change a child’s view on books forever.  


Q & A Session With KW

Where did your love of stories and storytelling come from?
This is a two part answer for me: 1) I love reading books that come alive. That means I typically read books which are fantasy, historical fiction, or biography/autobiography. The reason for this is due to a second grade teacher I had who used to read from her childhood diary. I loved knowing that people, in stories, could be real. I loved learning that settings and stories can be influenced by culture, authors, and events. 2) I’m the youngest of four, so I think I had a natural talent for story telling just to stand out in the family crowd (hehehe).

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
I absolutely love doing the research. Granted my book is fantasy, but I like to weave historical facts into my story where I can. The Viking era is proving to be quite fascinating to me, so I’m enjoying the constant research.

What literary character is most like you?
I have to laugh, because while I was writing Grimhild – a very chatty, go-getter, leaps before thinking, pre-teen – I thought “uh oh, I think I’m writing myself into the story!” I’m no longer a pre-teen, but the rest of her totally fits my personality!

What projects are you working on at the present?
I’m currently writing book 2 of the Freya series. The book is plotted out, several chapters and scenes have been written, and a title has been chosen: Freya and the Battle at The Aal Thing.

Is there any significance to the names you used in the book?
I love names. For me, the names in my book represent a lot of things from real persons I know, to researched items, to places I’ve been. I think names can play homage to special memories as well.

What book do you wish you could have written?
I wish I could have written Anne of Green Gables. I ADORE that book. LM Montgomery simply brings turn of the century life alive to me. I think the book is a real page turner with characters who are so distinct and real.
Now, a few questions just for fun. . . 

If you had a superpower, what would it be?
Super power or super knowledge? I’d love to be one who’s the top in her field and knows absolutely everything there is to know about a subject. It’s this very idea from which I’ve based Dr. Andersen, Freya’s dad – he’s the world’s most renowned Viking archaeologist.

Where is one place you want to visit that you haven't been before?
One place that has been on my bucket list forever, and unfortunately has not yet been taken off, is to visit the Irish countryside.

What’s something that most people don’t know about you?
I never daydreamed (or so I thought) of becoming an author. I remember wanting to go into television or the movies and role playing or acting as if my future career depended upon it. But then one day after my book came out, a cousin of mine showed me a letter I had written to her some 12-15 years prior. In it, I told her I wanted to be an author. Who knew??!!

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