FICTION

Zog and the Flying Doctors

illus. by Alex Scheffler. 32p. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine Bks. Sept. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781338134179.
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PreS-Gr 2—Princess Pearl, a doctor with a knack for medicines, and Gadabout the Great, both a knight and expert surgeon, fly across the kingdom on Zog, their trusty dragon steed, bringing medical care to creatures of all kinds. With a "Bang-crash-thump" (Zog is good at flying, but not really at landing), they bring relief to a sunburned mermaid, remove a unicorn's extra horn, and care for a sneezing lion with the flu. But the generous Flying Doctors are halted by Pearl's patriarchal uncle, a king who proclaims, "Princesses can't be doctors, silly girl." Pearl is locked in a tower, until her uncle comes down with orange fever. The court doctors are stumped, but the Flying Doctors work together to gather ingredients from their former patients to cure the king. The king is so happy, he apologizes and frees Pearl. Rhyming text makes for a jaunty read-aloud in this predictable yet satisfying story of an empowered princess. The narrative, a well-balanced mix of dialogue and description, flows along at an even pace. The cartoonish mixed-media illustrations set the story in a classical, forested, European-inspired kingdom. The humorous details and amusing facial expressions provide much to explore on first and subsequent rereadings. Although the female character is still stereotypically the caregiver while the male character is the surgeon, it's still nice to have a strong, resourceful female protagonist whose intelligence helps her prevail in a man's world.
VERDICT Bouncing read-aloud text, delightful illustrations, and a modern girl power plot make this a fine general purchase for libraries.

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