I have questions about children's books

A school for dragons.

I've read a lot of children's books, some of them many, many times over. Too many times, perhaps. After a while I've started to think too much about them.

And I have questions.

Hide and Seek Pig

Pig is playing hide and seek with her friends. Well, she's playing hide and seek with Hen, but can't find her so drags everyone else into the game instead. But I digress. Pig first finds Rabbit, then later Dormouse.

I have questions.

Why does Rabbit look so angry? Why is she looking at Dormouse? What crime did Dormouse commit to warrant such hatred?

We aren't told.

Rabbit is looking very angry at Dormouse.

Postman Bear

Bear's having a birthday party and invites his friends. All seems jolly and pleasant. But in the final page we get a look at the inside of Bear's house, featuring pictures of two other bears, who aren't mentioned in the book at all. One looks female, the other young.

I have questions.

Who are these bears? Are they Bear's wife and child? Where are they? Why aren't they coming to the party? What dark secret lurks behind Bear's cheerful facade?

We may never know.

Bear's front room.

Fox's socks

It's half past nine in the morning and poor old Fox has lost his socks. Fox finds them hidden in increasingly inexplicable places throughout his house. He's accompanied in his search on each page by a small female mouse, who isn't mentioned in the narrative at any point.

I have questions.

Who is this mouse? And what happened between her and Fox the night before that left his clothes so haphazardly scattered?

No one seems to want to talk about it.

Fox and the mouse in his bedroom.

Zog

A story of a young dragon in school. However, I have a problem with the last lesson, where the dragons learn to capture princesses. The dragon teacher states:

"you'll need to capture hundreds by the time you're fully grown"

I have questions.

  • How many is "hundreds"?
  • Where would Zog find that many princesses?
  • What happens to the princesses once they've been captured?
  • How long until a dragon is "fully grown"?

"Hundreds" (i.e. at least two hundred) is a lot of princesses. Let's look at some numbers.

Zog's class has 6 dragons in it. Let's be generous and assume that each dragon captures from the same set of princesses (assuming each princess then escapes in order to be captured again). Let's not assume that there could be simply one princess that Zog captures over and over again (he's not Bowser).

The age a dragon is before they're "fully grown" could be a long time. According to this discussion about dragons the age of Smaug the dragon in the Hobbit could have been around 300 years. Ignoring what portion of that would be until a dragon is "fully grown", that could easily span multiple generations, so the set of princesses could include daughters of previously captured princesses.

The number of princesses that a royal family could have varies and a kingdom doesn't have a particular size. It's therefore difficult to estimate what area the dragons would need to cover in order to capture 200 princesses, but let's give it a go.

Including both princesses by descent and those by marriage, the British royal family has at current count 13 princesses, for an area of 242,495 km². Liechtenstein, by contrast, has 14, with an area of just 160 km². With those numbers, the dragons would need at least 15 Liechtensteins to secure the required number of princesses, with a total area of 2400km².

That answer can be reduced if you factor in the 300 years - the oldest British princess is 85, so let's assume every 85 years there's a new set of 14 princesses, so now we only need a few princesses more than 4 Liechtensteins can produce, with a total area of 640km².

That's a bit smaller than Middlesex, which seems reasonable. Still, it's fair to say that being a princess in Zog's world must be a full time job.

And at least we answered one of these questions at last.

Zog's classmates practise capturing princesses.

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