The Making of a Knight

Patrick O'Brien, Author, Patrick O'Brien, Illustrator
Patrick O'Brien, Author, Patrick O'Brien, Illustrator Charlesbridge Publishing $15.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-88106-354-7
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O'Brien (illus. of A Pirate's Life for Me!) travels back to the age of chivalry, tracing the gradual metamorphosis of an English boy from lowly seven-year-old page to 14-year-old squire to a knight at 21. Despite the workmanlike prose, the narrative form works well here to hold interest and provide cohesiveness to the many nuggets of information served up. Readers learn about tournaments, feasts, 15th-century manners and customs, and the training in archery, sword-fighting and horsemanship (as well as in reading, writing and music) typically required of an aspiring knight. O'Brien crafts an intriguing visual mix, alternating full-page oil paintings with smaller vignettes and captioned close-ups--of horses, weaponry, falcons and the like. The artist uses light and shadow to good advantage, creating high drama (e.g., shafts of sunlight stream through an unseen window onto the kneeling youth as he is knighted), and he invests the pages with a sense of movement, from banners and flags streaming in the wind to the dust kicked up by thundering hooves. A robust blend of pageantry, derring-do and a wee bit of romance. All ages. (July)
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