Tuesday, November 13, 2007

a heretofore unknown treasure

Carol Carrick's books Patrick's Dinosaurs and What Happened to Patrick's Dinosaurs are over 20 years old. Illustrated by her husband, Donald, they were classroom standards back when I was getting my teaching certification in the early 90's. I wasn't familiar with his Harald books--Harald and the Giant Knight and Harald and the Great Stag until yesterday, actually. They are lovely. Harald, a young boy living in feudal Britain, learns the truth about knights and hunting. Harald and his family are brave, resourceful people. There is enough suspense and action to keep a little boy engaged and yet put forth a message that his more pacifist-minded mother can appreciate. One doesn't have to be a knight to be brave; knights are not always noble. Sometimes killing another living being is a sin against nature (stag or mockingbird).

For more unconventional heroes, be sure to get your hands on Jane Yolen's anthology, Mightier than the Sword: world folktales for strong boys. It starts off with an open letter to her grandsons, explaining that swords are not the only weapons and that bravado is really not what it means to be brave.

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