THE SWORD AND THE CIRCLE

KING ARTHUR AND THE KNIGHTS OF THE ROUND TABLE

Once more, as in The Light Beyond the Forest (1980) whose events follow these, Sutcliff immerses herself and her readers in the sensibility of the medieval legend. It's a world where unproved heroes ride about inquiring "Good fellow, is there any place near here where adventure is to be had for the asking?" and where a knight of the Round Table is likely in his wanderings to come upon four others gathered under an oak tree. Women, except for Queen Guinevere who stands apart, are cast as damsels in distress or subtle and treacherous enchantresses; honor is worth more than life; and, more so than in The Light Beyond the Forest with its transforming religious superstructure, the primitive Celtic heritage asserts itself through the thin cloak of chivalry. Sutcliff tells us that her version has "followed Malory in the main" but borrowed also from other (specified) earlier sources. The narrative, which takes us from "The Coming of Arthur" (with some mythological-historical background before that) to "The Coming of Percival" shortly before the graft quest featured in The Light Beyond the Forest, includes a very early, alternative version of Tristan and Iseult, a more familiar one of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and other Arthurian knightings and romances from Malory. As before, Sutcliff tells them straight, with apparently unswerving and heartfelt conviction.

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 1982

ISBN: 0140371494

Page Count: 270

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1982

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves

MAYBE

A young child explores the unlimited potential inherent in all humans.

“Have you ever wondered why you are here?” asks the second-person narration. There is no one like you. Maybe you’re here to make a difference with your uniqueness; maybe you will speak for those who can’t or use your gifts to shine a light into the darkness. The no-frills, unrhymed narrative encourages readers to follow their hearts and tap into their limitless potential to be anything and do anything. The precisely inked and colored artwork plays with perspective from the first double-page spread, in which the child contemplates a mountain (or maybe an iceberg) in their hands. Later, they stand on a ladder to place white spots on tall, red mushrooms. The oversized flora and fauna seem to symbolize the presumptively insurmountable, reinforcing the book’s message that anything is possible. This quiet read, with its sophisticated central question, encourages children to reach for their untapped potential while reminding them it won’t be easy—they will make messes and mistakes—but the magic within can help overcome falls and failures. It’s unlikely that members of the intended audience have begun to wonder about their life’s purpose, but this life-affirming mood piece has honorable intentions. The child, accompanied by an adorable piglet and sporting overalls and a bird-beaked cap made of leaves, presents white.

More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves . (Picture book. 2-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-946873-75-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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