Featured Friday: The Stone Lions by Gwen Dandridge | Jo Linsdell

Featured Friday: The Stone Lions by Gwen Dandridge

Title: The Stone Lions
Author: Gwen Dandridge
ISBN: 0989315789
ASIN: 978-0989315784

Purchasing links: 

Book blurb: 

In the last throes of the 14th century, Islamic Spain is under pressure from Castile and Aragon. Ara, the twelve-year old daughter to the Sultan, finds herself in the center of a political intrigue when her eunuch tutor is magically transformed by the evil Wazir. Can a little girl save her friend and tutor with the help of a Sufi mathemagician.
Intertwined in a mystery of math, art and magic, Ara races to find the seven broken symmetries before time runs out? Will she succeed or will the Alhambra fall and with it all that she loves?
And will the stone lions awaken in time to help her?
This cross-cultural fantasy combines mystery and math to teach the geometry of symmetry.
Author bio: 
was born in the deep South, where many writers are grown along side the cotton and horses of that rich land, but I lived on Long Island most of my first years. It was after I moved to Berkeley, dragging along three small children, that I started to think about creating something more...
For awhile I managed to subsume most of my afterwork creativity into dance. I flitted from Scandinavian to Irish, to English step dancing, to Morris dance and sword. Having a short (or sometimes long) fling with each until finally settling on Morris and English short sword (Rapper) as my favorites.
Northern Renn faire was a hoot to participate in as was the Sidmouth International Dance festival.
After moving to Central California and marrying my love, my creativity has evolved yet again, into more tangible forms: mosaics, stained glass, and finally, writing.
Author website: www.gwendandridge  
Review comments:

By Lynn on July 22, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
How fun the world might be if mathemagic was possible! In Stone Lions, Gwen Dandridge gives us a taste of a world where magic and mathematics work together to create strength.
Twelve year old Ara, the strong-willed daughter of the Sultan, waits eagerly for the arrival of Tahirah, a Sufi mathemagician. Ara would give much to be able to study with Tahirah. But then Ara spies the Wazir, her father's most trusted advisor, performing a strange and secretive piece of magic. Along with the spilling of blood and a foul stench, the spell causes a portion of the palace wall to twist out of shape.
When Ara and her best friend Layla are given a chance to study symmetry with Tahirah, they uncover an evil plot to bring down the Alhambra, the palace where Ara has grown up. Symmetry forms the basis of much of the architecture of the Alhambra, but evil magic has greatly weakened it. The girls, with the aid of their new tutor, begin a frantic race to find and mend the broken symmetries, hoping to save their home and their way of life--to say nothing of the old tutor, Suleiman, who has managed to get caught in the middle of all the intrigue.
The author does a terrific job of bringing the exotic setting to life, sharing fascinating details of life in 15th century Spain. Her characters are appealing, the action builds, and there is much humor throughout.
Stone Lions deftly melds the fun of magic with the intrigue of math to create an original middle-grade historical fantasy that is a pleasure to read.
By Valerie Hobbs on August 22, 2013
Format: Paperback
I've never been to the Alhambra but it feels like I have after reading Stone Lions. I love the magical elements in this book and the girls are endearing. A really fun read! (http://www.amazon.com/gp/pdp/profile/A1KXFCD3JFP51Z/ref=cm_cr_dp_pdp)
By J. L. Kitchel on July 15, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Amazon Verified Purchase
Spain's Alhambra, "mathemagics" and symmetry come to life in this entertaining young adult mystery about a sultan's daughter trying to save her tutor and the Alhambra itself from a wily wizard. The story is a cleverly disguised lesson about symmetry with detailed images as visuals. Not only does it make clear this intricate concept, but also gives a bird's eye view of harem life in the 1400's along with some history thrown in for good measure. A fast, fun and instructive read!
This review is from: The Stone Lions (Kindle Edition)
I wish I'd written it! I visited the Alhambra and the Generalife Gardens some years ago. It is one of the most beautiful places in the world. A hidden gem with a sense of sadness hanging over it. The author brings its original inhabitants to life. The story is fast moving, thrilling and teaches you something at the same time. I dislike Maths and am uninterested in symmetry but even I liked it. The book also gives a taste of the beauty of the Muslim religion, untainted by the corruption of men. This is a crossover book - adults will enjoy it and older children too. I will keep it for my granddaughter and reread it often.

Mini Interview:
Why did you write this book?
While visiting the Alhambra, my friend, Dorothy, a math professor at Dartmouth, suggested that I write a children’s story to make math engaging to kids.
It struck a chord. The thing was, I had fallen in love with the Alhambra with its walls of art, water-spraying fountains, intimate gardens—and of course, the lions. Everything about it sang to me. The bad news was that I didn’t know anything about symmetry, band or other and--I had never written much more then college papers and the occasional newsletter article.
So even though I am math phobic and never mastered the twelve times tables—the opportunity to create a children’s fantasy that would combine math with art and history was more than I could resist. I’d always wished I could write.
With my usual dismissal of difficult truths, as I sat with my two friends traveling on the bus to Seville, Spain I sketched out ten chapters blurbs that I thought would be the basis of my story. How hard could this be? Ten chapters, ten pages each. Anyone could do that.
Fifteen years later, years of reading and researching, many, many writing critiques and a whole lot of rewriting, The Stone Lions is fully fledged with forty-three chapters and 230 or so pages.
Anything in particular you'd like to share about this book or it's creation?
Thank you for asking. The Stone Lions is notable as it melds math, art and multicultural history into a readable fantasy.
What can we expect to see from you in the future?
I’m very excited about the second book of this series, The Jinn’s Jest.  The story is well underway. In addition, a YA book, tentatively titled, The Dragons’ Chosen, is almost ready for launching.


  1. Thanks for the blog about The Stone Lions! It was lovely of you to do this.