cover image Knight's Book CL

Knight's Book CL

Ali Mitgutsch. Clarion Books, $16.95 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-395-58103-2

The best features of this vibrant picture book set in the Middle Ages are found outside the story line, which concerns the skillful squire of an impoverished but valiant knight who jousts at a tournament and stays to prepare the host castle against an impending assault. The real contributions here are in Mitgutsch's artwork, which not only represents plot developments but illustrates peripheral concepts. For example, endpapers and other spreads constitute virtual pictorial encyclopedias of medieval objects (pennon, coronal, lozenge tip), pastimes (tilting at a dummy during jousting practice, archery instruction), etc. Other art depicts medieval technology (e.g., how roofs are removed from castle towers to aid in defending the building from marauders). Color and broad lines are favored over detail and precision. The work, accordingly, is more atmospheric than realistic, but one has only to examine the foldout center spread to appreciate the merits of this tradeoff. Ages 7-10. (Sept.)