Past the half-way mark and on the downhill slope! Whew! Anyone still with me?
I fell in love with King Arthur legends while devouring The Squire’s Tales YA series by Gerald Morris. In one of my favorite books of the whole series, The Savage Damsel and the Dwarf, Morris puts his own spin on Sir Thomas Malory’s story of Sir Beaumains and Dame Lyonesse from Book VII of Le Morte D’Arthur.
Many of you may be familiar with the gorgeous picture book Saint George and the Dragon, an adaptation of a story from Edward Spencer’s The Fairie Queen, retold by Margaret Hodges and illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman, but you may not know that this author and illustrator pair also collaborated on an equally lovely version of Sir Beaumains and Dame Lyonesse, The Kitchen Knight: A Tale of King Arthur.
The illustrations are rich, detailed, and beautiful, as is the writing.
“Then the knight of the blue pavilions clad all in blue armor came against Gareth, and Gareth rode against him with such force that their spears broke in pieces and their horses fell to the earth. But the two knights sprang to their feet and drew their swords and gave many great strokes until their shields and their armor were hewn to bits. At last, Sir Gareth gave such a blow that the blue knight begged for mercy, saying, ‘I and my five hundred knights shall always be at your command.’”
King Arthur legends are full of adventure, action, and romance. This picture book is one of the few King Arthur retellings that is completely appropriate for all ages. It also contains a short historical note on the original tale.
Crime Scene [Setting]
King Arthur’s stately castle
When the Round Table was in its glory (Medieval times)
Begins in springtime
Young man works in kitchen for a year before setting off on his adventure (which seems to take place over a week or so, but it could be much longer)
King Arthur—Loves feasts and hearing about adventures, a good sport
Stranger/(Sir) Gareth of Orkney—Goodly young fellow, friendly, modest, mild, big, broad, handsome, humble, compliant, kitchen boy, strong and capable, nephew to King Arthur, brave
Sir Lancelot—Kind and helpful, gentle, courteous
Sir Kay—Rude, angry, ill-mannered, Knight of the Round Table
Lady Linette—Proud, rude
Black Knight, Blue Knight
Red Knight—Evil, as strong as seven men