Setting

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Last Updated on May 12, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 316

Yolen is a master of creating vivid, magical settings for her stories. From mysterious woodlands in which an even more mysterious unicorn lives to a bustling city soon to be destroyed in which the youngster Merlin learns about human nature, Yolen creates places that linger in the mind long after...

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Yolen is a master of creating vivid, magical settings for her stories. From mysterious woodlands in which an even more mysterious unicorn lives to a bustling city soon to be destroyed in which the youngster Merlin learns about human nature, Yolen creates places that linger in the mind long after the story has been read. The village, islands, river, and marsh of "Dragonfield" combine to form a place that seems real, that is memorable for what it is as well as for the fantastic adventure that takes place there.

Yolen has set herself the task of describing a place in such a way that implies a story will be told that explains something about the name. She does this partly by naming the spit of land Dragonfield. "Once dragons dwelt on the isles in great herds" adds to the interest of the story by implying that Dragonfield was an ideal place for dragons to live; surely a dragon will appear there in the story. Further, a land furrowed by the claws of dragons, with the remains of the dragons buried in its dirt, sounds like a fine place for an adventure.

Much of the action takes place near a river close to Tansy's home. Her father perishes there and the great battle between kite and dragon takes place there.

The river was an old one, its bends broad as it flooded into the great sea. Here and there the water had cut through soft rock to make islets that could be reached by poleboat or, in the winter, by walking across the thick ice. This turning, green down to the river's edge, was full of cress and reeds and even wild rice carried from the eastern lands by migrating birds.

It is among the islets that Tansy finds many of her medicinal herbs, as well as the rare "dragonsbane" that burns any flesh that touches it.

Literary Qualities

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Last Updated on May 12, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 374

"That is why there are dragons, after all: to call forth heroes," declares Yolen. This small sentence creates a world of anticipation for adventure in "Dragonfield" and is an example of how well-chosen phrases throughout "Dragonfield" whet one's appetite for reading the story through.

Yolen relies heavily on irony to create suspense in "Dragonfield." For instance, she has already let her audience in on the existence of Aredd, and it is easy to deduce that Da has been carried off and eaten by the dragon, but the villagers and Da's family have no idea what has actually happened to him. Since they believed that all the dragons had been killed in the Dragon Wars. Thus, with each person carried away and each farm animal eaten, the suspense of the story builds, because somewhere along the line everyone must realize that a real, live dragon has returned to Dragonfield. Yolen ties the irony and suspense to character development adroitly. For instance, noting that Tansy blames herself for not recalling the patch of dragonsbane (fireweed) because if she had paid closer attention to her father, she would have realized that the fireweed being in the marsh meant that a dragon had to be nearby. It forms part of her growing awareness of her part in her family and in her community.

Another irony central to "Dragonfield" is that of the heroic-looking but fearful Lancot. Everyone who looks at him thinks that he is the epitome of heroism. His great muscles, handsome face, and attractive hair all suggest an exceptional man. However, he just wants to run away when informed that a dragon is nearby. As with the presence of the dragon, Yolen lets her audience in on Lancot's true nature, although the other characters in the story do not know it, except for Tansy, who gradually sees the true man, apparently finding his sensitivity more attractive than his hulking exterior. The irony of Lancot's true personality compared with his false public one creates much of the suspense of the second half of "Dragonfield." Will he run away? Will he stay to build the great kite and then run away? Will he leave Tansy to face Aredd alone or will his love for her overcome his fear?

Social Sensitivity

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The era in which "Dragonfield" takes place seems medieval, as well as to the far north of Europe. While much of "Dragonfield" makes the village and the nearby islands seem pleasant, Yolen notes some of the less happy aspects of medieval life, such as, the "three little boys buried under rough stones at the edge of the garden." While dragons may be a spectacular form of death, Yolen reminds that deaths of children were common in the era in which her story takes place. Another infant perishes during the story, indicating how perilous life was for children. This means that Tansy's happy exploration of her environment cannot be entirely innocent fun; no youngster, not even the redoubtable Tansy is safe from the dangers of her world.

For Further Reference

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Last Updated on May 12, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 191

Publishers Weekly (November 1, 1993): 81. The reviewer of Here There Be Dragons says, "Dragon-lovers and maybe even dinophiles will unite to celebrate Yolen's . . . virtuosic poems and stories about dragons."

Rogers, Susan L. School Library Journal, vol. 40, no. 1 (January 1994): 117. "There are evil dragons as well as good ones in this collection," says Rogers, "and after experiencing their variety and might, readers won't be able to help echoing the author's hope that they will return some day."

Yolen, Jane. "Jane Yolen: Telling Tales." Locus, vol. 39 (August 1997): 4-5, 72. In an interview, Yolen talks about the creative process involved in composing her works.

—— . "Jane Yolen: The Bardic Munchies." Locus, vol. 26 (January 1991): 4,78. Yolen discusses why she thinks writing for children is challenging, as well as what she regards as important elements in her fiction.

—— . Touch Magic: Fantasy, Faerie and Folklore in the Literature of Childhood. New York: Philomel Books, 1981. Yolen explains why she prefers tough characters, noting that they help to clarify the differences between good and evil by defying evil.

"Yolen, Jane." In Something about the Author, vol. 75. Edited by Diane Telgen. Detroit: Gale, 1994, pp. 223-229. Telgen provides a list of Yolen's publications with a short biography.

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