Grilled Cheese and Dragons #1
Nancy Krulik; Illustrated by Ben Balistreri
Meet the princess who'd rather wear a suit of armor than a crown!
Princess Serena (or as she prefers, Princess Pulverizer) doesn't want to be a princess--she wants to be knight! But her father, King Alexander of Empiria, thinks she still has a lot to learn when it comes to exhibiting valiant behavior. So he presents a challenge: the princess must first go on a Quest of Kindness and perform good deeds to prove that she truly deserves to go to knight school. With help from a friendly dragon named Dribble and a perpetually terrified knight-in-training named Lucas, can she complete her quest and discover what it really takes to be a hero?
Excerpt from Grilled Cheese and Dragons #1
“Princess Serena!” Lady Frump shouted angrily. “Come down from there right now! Princesses do not hang from the ceiling.”
But the Royal Princess of Empiria was not ready to come down. She didn’t want to sit at the table with her classmates, learning about the proper manners to use at a tea party. Who cared how you held your pinkie when you picked up your teacup? Tea parties were no fun at all.
But swinging from the rafters—now, that was fun!
The princess began swaying back and forth over the heads of the other girls in her class.
Back and forth.
Back and forth.
Back and forth.
She swung her legs higher and higher in the air.
“Wheeee!” the princess shouted down to her classmates. “You guys should really try this. It’s amazing. I feel like I’m flying.”
The girls stared up at her in surprise. No one disobeyed Lady Frump. Ever. She was the toughest, scariest teacher at the Royal School of Ladylike Manners.
But Lady Frump didn’t frighten the princess at all. Nobody frightened her.
She was the bravest girl in all of Empiria.
Maybe even in the whole world.
So she just kept swinging.
Back and forth.
Back and . . .
“WHOA!” The princess let out a loud yelp as she lost her grip on the rafters.
SPLASH! The princess’s royal bottom landed right in a big bowl of ooey-gooey purplish pomegranate pudding.
SMASH. Spoons, forks, knives, teacups, and saucers crashed to the floor. There was broken china everywhere.
The princess looked up at Lady Frump. The teacher’s face was beet red. Her eyes were tightened into tiny angry slits. And she was clutching her handkerchief in a sweaty fist.
“Oops,” the princess said sheepishly.
“Now look what you’ve done!” Lady Frump scolded. “Why didn’t you come down carefully when I asked you to, Princess Serena?”
“Well, for one thing, that’s not my name,” the princess replied. “I’ve told you that a million times.”
A few of the girls gasped.
“Serena is the name your father, King Alexander, gave you,” Lady Frump reminded her.
“But it’s not the right name for me,” the princess explained. “Serena comes from the word serene. And serene means calm and peaceful. I’m neither of those.”
Lady Frump couldn’t argue with that.
Nobody could argue with that.
“That’s why I gave myself a new name,” the princess continued. “From now on, I want everyone to call me Princess Pulverizer.”
“Princess Pulverizer is not a proper name for a royal girl,” Lady Frump told her.
“Says who?” Princess Pulverizer argued.
“I . . . I . . . well . . . ,” Lady Frump stammered.
The girls all stared at Princess Pulverizer in awe. She’d stumped Lady Frump. Amazing.
“Never mind,” Lady Frump said, wiping her forehead with her handkerchief. “I will have two of the scullions from the kitchen come and clean up this mess later. And you, Princess Serena, will help them.”
Princess Pulverizer gasped with surprise. She wasn’t sure which was more shocking—the idea that her teacher would expect her to clean up the mess with the kitchen maids, or that she refused to call her by her new name.
“In the meantime, we will head into the ballroom to practice dancing the saltarello,” Lady Frump continued. “I want all of you to be able to dance beautifully at the ball next month.”
Princess Pulverizer frowned as she followed her classmates into the ballroom. The only thing worse than tea-party lessons was dance lessons.
Princess Pulverizer was not a great dancer.
She wasn’t even a good dancer.
Actually, she was a lousy dancer.
To make matters worse, the ballroom was right above the courtyard where the boys in Knight School did their training. The boys looked like they were having so much fun, riding on their horses and having sword fights. And here she was, stuck moving her feet to the same beat, over and over again.
“Tap, tap, hop. Tap, tap, hop . . . ,” Lady Frump repeated as she clapped her hands. “Ladies, please dance to the rhythm.”
Princess Pulverizer looked out the window and watched as two of the knights-in-training drew swords. They began fencing, poking each other’s armor with their weapons.
Clang. Clang. Every time one of the swords hit their metal suits, it made a loud noise that echoed all the way up to the ballroom.
Clip-clop. Clip-clop. Three other boys rode by on horseback. All of them—even the horses—were dressed in armor.
Princess Pulverizer scowled. It just wasn’t fair.
Why did the boys get to wear full suits of armor and ride on horses, while she was stuck trying to hop around a dance floor in a silly lace gown?
And why did the boys get to wear those valiant visors when they fenced, while she was stuck having to balance a tiara on her head as she danced the saltarello? A visor had a purpose—it kept a knight safe. But what was the point of a tiara?
“Tap, tap, hop . . . Tap, tap, hop . . . ,” Lady Frump continued. “Girls! Please pay attention. Tap, tap . . .”
Princess Pulverizer tap-tap-hopped her way over to the window for a better look at the two boys who were fencing. One of them was actually pretty good. He moved his feet quickly and was able to block most of the jabs that came from his opponent.
From Princess Pulverizer’s point of view, fencing didn’t look that hard. All you had to do was dance around a little and poke at someone with a sword.
A few lunges here.
A few steps backward there.
And maybe a little twirl—just to make it look fancy.
What was the big deal about fencing, anyway?
“Whoa!” Princess Pulverizer exclaimed as she bashed into one of the girls in her class.
Who crashed into the girl on her left.
Who knocked down the two girls on either side of her.
Who both collapsed right on top of Lady Frump.
“PRINCESS SERENA!” Lady Frump shouted angrily as she climbed out from under the pile of crowns, shoes, petticoats, arms, and legs. “What am I going to do with you?”
Princess Pulverizer looked down at the purplish pudding stain on her dress.
She stared at the wiggling mountain of classmates on the ground.
And for once, the princess had no answer for Lady Frump.