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King Arthur's Very Great Grandson Hardcover – July 24, 2012
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A Wall Street Journal Children's Book of 2012
Debut author Kraegel proves he’s a talent to be reckoned with. He has a Monty Pythonesque sense of language, humor, pacing, and character—the text’s mixture of bombastic and deadpan deliveries makes for a stirring read-aloud. This fine sense of the epically absurd also animates Kraegel’s rococo watercolor and ink renderings: in his hands, a dragon’s scales coalesce into an intricate mosaic, a tree is a swirl of mazelike lines, and the sea becomes a tangled mass of blue ribbons.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
From a gifted new author-illustrator comes an original story about a very old hand: namely, Henry Alfred Grummorson, the great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandson of King Arthur. On the day of his sixth birthday, Henry sets out for peril and conquest... Alas, all he finds are peaceable beasts. A Cyclops who prefers staring contests, a dragon who blows smoke rings, a griffin who plays chess — everyone’s actually pretty friendly. It’s still exciting.
—The New York Times
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
But, stop and think for just a moment about a child you love. Perhaps your own. Perhaps a grandchild. Perhaps a child you teach in pre-school or Sunday school. What stories do you want to lovingly share with them?
I find that readers always thank me for pointing out picture-book treasures celebrating peace like A Bedtime for Bear (Bear and Mouse), part of the multi-volume Mouse and Bear series by Bonny Becker and Kady MacDonald Denton, or Bob Graham's startling A Bus Called Heaven, or poet Ted Kooser's haunting House Held Up by Trees. We all know that these books are as much for the delight of the adults who buy them as they are for the children who first hear someone read the text. With repeat readings, these picture books can become a beloved part of an adult's life story. I've been a tough-minded journalist all my life, but the most precious corner of my extensive library is the little shelf holding a dozen dog-eared picture books published in the 1950s.
King Arthur's Very Great Grandson knits together all of these threads: an echo of the stirring tales of brave knights and magical challenges, a gorgeously illustrated picture book format and a surprisingly peaceful message that families can share through the years.
What is the message? I don't think it's spoiling this short tale to say that the heavily armed young knight in this story charges into one life-changing surprise after another. He confronts some of the world's greatest demons: a "terrible Dragon" (there are also many friendly dragons in world literature), "the dreaded Cyclops" (taking us all the way back to Greek epics), a "grim Griffin" (complete with twisted claws perfect for slaughtering its prey), and even "Leviathan" (who the Bible calls "the coiling serpent," "the monster of the sea" and a creature so fearsome that anyone who wakes the beast will surely curse his fate forever.)
Horrors!!! Shudder!!! One can feel the reader of this book pitching the voice deeper and drawing out the lines in ominous suspense. The pages flip ever so slowly. Will blood spill? Will our hero survive? Instead, our young knight discovers quite the opposite of violence in some creatively twisted encounters.
I should underline that all of the books I have mentioned in this review come from the bright minds at Candlewick Press, which has a strong taste for producing peacefully twisted books like these. Bravo to the crew for thinking like that!
Now, it's your turn: Don't wait. Not all picture books remain on sale forever. Tell a friend about this review. Share the news on Facebook. Snap this book up now, as it is debuting on Amazon. Then, you'll have many years to read and savor it as a dog-eared gem in your own favorite corner of the family bookshelf.
The story is fabulous as well. It gets at children's sense of desire for adventure and my five year old son really identifies with that desire. He also found it "hilarious" that the monsters wanted to play games. This is a book that will be read again and again at our home.
I can also see this book being used as "inspiration" for my children's artwork and for storytelling. A child could not draw in detail as Kraegel does, but I can see my daughter enjoy trying to replicate his style and it giving her incentive to notice texture and color in the world around her. I am so drawn to the bright colors and crisp lines in this art. It is very geometric but at the same time has a softness to it. I am a statistician not an artist so excuse my lack of ability in explaining art, I just love that every time I look at them I notice more detail and that they have this great depth to them, but also these simple lines that are so appealing. Hopefully someone better versed can explain it better, but get the book and see for yourself.
I think this book is a great book, and that if you buy one new children's book this year for your children that this should be the book. It is a new classic and it is the type of book I can see being read throughout the generations like Where the Wild Things Are or The Very Hungry Caterpillar. I will be recommending it to all my friends and to my children's teachers.
My thoughtful 8 yr old daughter is absorbing all the detail in the illustrations, and running the new words like "Leviathan" over her tongue.
My wild 8 yr old son reads the boy's challenges to the monsters with gusto.
And my 4 yr old daughter gasps at each new creature.
I am very impressed with this book. It will be my go-to birthday and Christmas present this year.
My kids are in love with this book. They have asked me to read it about 10 times since we received it in the mail yesterday. And, of course, I was more than happy to spend more time with this book.
The illustrations are vibrant, full of detail, happy-making. The story is heartfelt, fun, full of a great lesson. I love this book. I recommend it very highly.