Chess-Dream in a Garden

Ralph Thompson, Author, Rosemary Sutcliff, Author, Ralph Thompson, Illustrator Candlewick Press (MA) $16.95 (48p) ISBN 978-1-56402-192-2
Inspired by the so-called Lewis Chessmen, a set of Scandinavian chess pieces carved in the 12th century, the late Sutcliff ( The Minstrel and the Dragon Pup ) has woven a recondite tale about the residents of a garden whose lawn resembles a chessboard. Attended by two Bishops, two Knights, two wardens and eight pawns, the White King and Queen live happily until one of the knights vows his love for the latter. The king's jealousy disrupts the garden's tranquility, prompting the invasion of the evil Red Horde. The two legions engage in a battle (which bears a strong resemblance to a chess game) until the members of the White Company are transformed into the various animals each has consistently dreamed about. Opaque sentences lace the obscure story: describing the Queen during battle, Sutcliff writes, ``And she pressed her face into the cool grass of the garden and kissed it as though her kiss might give it of her own life and wake the strength and life that was its own.'' Thompson's pen and watercolor drawings are equally sophisticated, and hardly geared to a young audience. Adult chess players may well be this book's most appreciative readers. Ages 4-up. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 08/02/1993
Release date: 08/01/1993
Genre: Children's
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