Friday, September 7, 2012

The Adventures of Sir Balin the Ill-Fated by Gerald Morris

Oh yes, I snatched this book up as soon as I saw it on the library's new book display. The Knights Tales series reigns as a favorite for the 9 year old and for me and last year's title earned a prestigious spot in Heavy Medal's Mock Newbery shortlist.

What's that about the cover? No, not that Sir Balin has two swords, but that is a good story. The lady! She is Lady Annalise the Questing Lady. A Questing Lady "accompanies knights on quests" but dare not confuse them with Damsels ("simpering, moaning, pathetic") in Distress. More to the point, she is "a companion, not a personal maid." Let the adventure begin!

Shortly after his birth, Sir Balin's parents were visited by the Old Woman of the Mountain (Which Mountain? Some Mountain? A Mountain? - this is funny) who gives a bummer of prophesy. This news haunts our brave knight all his life and he and Annalise battle against his fate on his quests.

Once again we have a bit of a lesson. The prophesy tortures Sir Balin and in the end he learns that fate comes by with your own choices and actions, not by what someone says.

And once again we have great vocabulary for the middle grade reader: muddled, dolorous, marplot.

And still Gerald Morris achieves this with humor. Here is one aside about jousting.

(Really, people should have noticed early on how inefficient fighting with a lance actually is, but oddly enough, it never seemed to sink in. People kept pointing lances at each other, and mostly missing, for years and years.) p. 29

If I were an elementary school librarian I would book talk these constantly and suggest them to teachers for classroom read alouds.

Perfect illustrations by Aaron Renier.

Find this book at your library.


xemilyx said...

This is definitely an unsung early chapter book series! I love how it's so fun and silly but still captures the essence of the Arthurian legends.

joanna said...