The Dragon With a Chocolate Heart by Stephanie Burgis

Aventurine the adventurous dragon meets a food mage and gets turned into a puny, thin-skinned human girl, but she still has the heart of a dragon. She still believes that she is the fiercest creature on the mountain or in the city of Drachenburg. At least, most of the time she believes it, until she looks down at her pitiful human body. But never mind, the food mage also introduced Aventurine to the wonderful, delicious, scrumptious flavor of chocolate, and Aventurine is willing to go anywhere and do almost anything for another taste of chocolate delightfulness.

What a romp! Chocolate and dragons and an independent girl/dragon and a testy chocolate maker and lots of political intrigue and, did I mention, chocolate? Aventurine is impetuous and somewhat foolhardy, but she does grow and mature as the story progresses. And the characters around her—Marina the chocolatier, Horst the chocolate house proprietor, Silke the marketer, and all of Aventurine’s dragon family—are well-rounded and interesting in and of themselves. Even the minor characters are fun. Aventurine’s brother, Jasper, studies philosophy. Her older and practically perfect sister, Citrine, writes epic poetry. Greta, the selfish and manipulative townswoman who tries to turn Aventurine into her own personal, unpaid maid, is hilarious.

The entire book is only 244 pages, well-edited, and well paced. Kudos to Ms. Burgis for a fun and rollicking adventure with heart, a chocolate heart, of course.

What others say

The Book Smugglers: “In the tradition of the best middle grade storytellers—such as Diana Wynne Jones, Catherynne M Valente—The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart is a story with multiple layers. Hot-tempered and fierce, Aventurine experiences loss, anxiety, and fear just as she has to deal with questions of power and identity and to find a new family and friendships.”

The Reader Dragon: “First off, if you ever plan on reading this book, make sure you have chocolate nearby, because you’re going to get the munchies! There is oh-so-much talk of chocolately goodness throughout the entirety of this book, that I guarantee you’ll be craving sweets in absolutely no time at all.”

Pages Unbound: “However, Aventurine’s journey is not just about embracing her spirit and the things that make her unique. It’s also about finding the strength to be vulnerable and to allow others to carry her at times.”

An interview with Stephanie Burgis about dragons and chocolate at Cracking the Cover.

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This book may be nominated for a Cybils Award, but the views expressed here are strictly my own and do not reflect or determine the judging panel’s opinions.

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