Arthur and the Sword

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Overview

"Long ago in the time of great darkness, a time without a king, there lived a fair boy called Arthur..."

So begins this dramatic tale of a humble boy destined to be king of all England. Each year young Arthur travels with his family to the old church of Londontown to attend the celebration of Christ's birth. But this year something magical occurs: In the snowy churchyard there appears a sword buried in a steel anvil in the center of a stone. Only he who can pull the sword from the stone and anvil can claim the ...

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Overview

"Long ago in the time of great darkness, a time without a king, there lived a fair boy called Arthur..."

So begins this dramatic tale of a humble boy destined to be king of all England. Each year young Arthur travels with his family to the old church of Londontown to attend the celebration of Christ's birth. But this year something magical occurs: In the snowy churchyard there appears a sword buried in a steel anvil in the center of a stone. Only he who can pull the sword from the stone and anvil can claim the right to the throne. Each knight in turn, including Arthur's older brother, is challenged to remove the sword but none succeeds. It is only when Arthur returns from a jousting tournament to fetch his brother's sword, that his true identity and the mystery of his royal destiny are revealed.

In this re-telling of a story at the heart of Arthurian legend, Robert Sabuda shares his artistic gift with beautiful stained glass artwork that subtly evokes the context of the story.

In this retelling which features stained glass illustrations, young Arthur proves himself to be the rightful heir to the throne by being the only one able to pull the sword from the steel anvil.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
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, nave 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.)
Children's Literature - Deborah Zink Roffino
With the stunning radiance of sunlit stained glass, the pages glow with the legend of the boy Arthur. The story is told simply with lyrical language and just enough authentic vocabulary-steed, tunic, tattered cloak-to heighten the Medieval mood around a classic English churchyard. There, a bejeweled and glorious Excalibur stands waiting for the hand that would be king to hoist it from an anvil of steel. Focused on that single confirmation of Arthur's true destiny, this reverent version of British lore unites historical trappings, resplendent tones and a tale of promise to create an inspired piece of children's literature.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-Sabuda's stunning illustrations for this best known Arthurian story make it an extraordinary effort. The retelling is solid with language that conveys the voice of the legend while remaining easily readable. In this short form, characters are sketchy. Sir Kay, usually providing comic relief and conflict with his pomposity, dishonesty, and churlishness, is here merely an opportunist. The tale of pulling the sword from the stone has so many interpretations that the writing alone doesn't warrant a new edition. The artwork is actually painted on glass, done predominantly in purples, blues, and russets with gold. Each double-spread generally provides one full-page and one smaller picture, all outlined in black leading, resembling medieval stained-glass windows. Here, Sabuda masters yet another medium in order to suit his story perfectly. Again, giving as much thought to the medium as to delivery, he has produced an outstanding piece of art-pictures that delight and really tell the story.-Helen Gregory, Grosse Pointe Public Library, MI
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780689820311
  • Publisher: Aladdin
  • Publication date: 8/4/1998
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 6 - 9 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.55 (w) x 10.97 (h) x 0.13 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Sabuda
Robert Sabuda
Children's book creator and pop-up book pioneer Robert Sabuda is a master at making both classic and original stories come to life, from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland to his own magical Winter's Tale.

Biography

Pop-up books are true oddities of children's publishing. They are charmingly quaint and old-fashioned, yet eternally popular. They've been around for ages, but precious few creative souls set out to become pop-up artists. This, however, is not the case with Robert Sabuda, who seems to have been born to make pop-up books.

Sabuda made his first step toward becoming one of the most ingenious pop-up artists in contemporary publishing as a very young child. He grew up in a household where books were held in the highest regard and reading was always encouraged. He has fond memories of being read to by his mother when he was a little boy. Sabuda's first encounter with a pop-up book occurred in a dentist office. Anxious about his appointment, young Robert's mother read a pop-up book with him to take his mind off the dentist's chair. He was instantly hooked.

Sabuda's background as a gifted artist also played a key role in his future career. As a kid, he was fortunate enough to be encouraged in his artistic pursuits by his teachers and his parents, his father being a mason and carpenter. He inherited from his dad a lifelong fascination with construction and avidly studied the pop-up books he received as gifts to find out what made them work. Imaginative and curious, he even made his own pop-ups out of discarded manila envelopes his mom brought home from her office.

This childhood hobby would prove invaluable, as an older Sabuda set out on a career in children's books. He got his start as a journeyman illustrator working with such writers as Eugene Bradley Coco (The Fiddler's Son; Wishing Well) and Jay Patrick Lewis (Earth Verses and Water Rhymes). He even worked on adaptations of Walt Whitman classics geared toward young readers.

Sabuda's first solo effort was Saint Valentine (1992), a retelling of the ancient tale of a humble Roman physician who brings about a miracle. The focal point of this charmingly simple story is Sabuda's illustrations, a series of intricate, exquisite mosaics made of marbleized and hand-painted paper that simulate the look of early Christian art. Proof of a craftsmanship rarely seen in children's books, Saint Valentine and its sequel, Tutankhamen's Gift, revealed the illustrator's uncanny talent for creating unconventional art.

In 1994, Sabuda discovered his niche with The Christmas Alphabet, a seasonal delight filled with eye-catching pop-ups and crafted with an elegance as appealing to adults as to children. The Christmas Alphabet was the first in a long line of remarkable paper-engineered wonders covering a wide range of subject matter. He would adapt famous tales (The Wonderful Wizard of Oz; Alice's Adventures in Wonderland), tackle contemporary issues (the Help the Animals series), and tell completely original stories (Winter's Tale).

Some of Sabuda's finest work has been done in collaboration with his partner and good friend Matthew Reinhart. Between them, these two pop-up geniuses have produced stunning work, including two wonderful science-oriented series, the Young Naturalist's Pop-up Handbook and the Encyclopedia Prehistorica. And although each has become increasingly involved in independent projects, they continue to influence each other in subtle and dramatic ways.

In explaining the attraction of the pop-up genre to today's technologically savvy kids, Sabuda says,. "I think [kids] are drawn to pop-up books because so much in their world today to them seems like magic, electronically," Sabuda told Barnes & Noble.com. "So, when they see one of my pop-ups books and they open it, they're amazed that it's occurring just by turning the page... that there's no electronics or bells or whistles to make that happen. I know that just from a creative part, they love seeing that magic occur."

Good To Know

As a boy, Sabuda took tap lessons at a local dance school, where he also furthered his artistic abilities by designing backdrops.

Shortly after graduating from Pratt Institute in New York City, Sabuda made ends meet by designing boxes for women's underwear.

Sabuda's first work in children's publishing was as an illustrator of coloring books, which books based on such popular movie characters as the very non-kid-friendly Rambo.

Sabuda shared some fun facts about himself in our interview:

"My first job was as a hardware stock boy and I LOVED it. To this day, when someone says 'Home Depot,' I start salivating like Pavlov's dog."

"I'm inspired to create the work that I do because I really don't know how to do anything else. Besides it's a bit of a curse, too. I always have so many ideas that I feel like I'll never get to them all."

"I don't know how to drive a car and have no desire to learn."

"My partner (author/illustrator) Matthew Reinhart and I just got an 1830's farmhouse in up state New York. Having it renovated has been a great project. It's like working on a huge pop-up that you can live in."

"To unwind, I do yoga, but my practice is pretty average. But I can do a headstand, away from the wall, which for me is a really big deal!"

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    1. Hometown:
      New York, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      March 8, 1965
    2. Place of Birth:
      Pinckney, Michigan
    1. Education:
      B.F.A., Pratt Institute, 1987
    2. Website:

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 22, 2004

    Arthur and the Sword--sharp as they come!

    Simply put, this book is an artistic CLASSIC, and is a must have in anyone's home library. The artwork is quite wonderful and its beaury stems from the rich, stain-glass window illustrations which the the artist, Robert Sabuda, uses to facilitate his re-telling of Mallory's storyline of a young boy who eventually becomes the famous King Arthur, via the sword-in-the-stone legend. The lustrous artwork resembles old-world cathedral stained-glass panels & the depiction is most outstanding (and the recurring kitty-cat is loads of fun for all cat lovers)

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