cover image Arthur and the Sword

Arthur and the Sword

Robert Clarke Sabuda, Thomas Malory. Atheneum Books, $16 (60pp) ISBN 978-0-689-31987-7

Noted author/illustrator Sabuda recreates the glory of the legend of Excalibur with startlingly powerful stained glass illustrations. Detailed swirls of liquid color-regal blues and purples, deep greens, a fiery amber-saturate each lead-veined image. As suggested by the unprepossessing title, Sabuda personalizes the epic tale, filtering the events through his eager, naive young hero: ``Long ago in a time of great darkness, a time without a king, there lived a fair boy named Arthur.'' Tinged with drama, the narrative succeeds in conveying both the grandeur of the legend and the personal transformation of a boy-king unaware and unsure of his gift. The final, radiant image of the sword conveys the splendor of the story: ``So in the quiet of that day in the small churchyard, the young boy lofted the mighty sword, raising high the country out of darkness and bring forth a new world.'' A page of notes following the story outlines the history of Arthurian legend, crediting this version to Sir Thomas Malory. Ages 6-9. (Oct.)