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Gr 4 Up
A nuanced retelling of the 12th-century tale. Awed by five knights he meets near his home, a young man vows to travel to King Arthur's court. Ignoring his mother's grief over his departure, he finds plenty of action on the way, culminating in his defeat of a fearsome foe and being knighted by Arthur. Feeling remorseful, Perceval heads home to ease his mother's heart. During his travels, he comes upon a mysterious castle where he witnesses a procession in which a maiden carries an amazing goblet. Too ashamed of his ignorance to ask his sickly host about it, Perceval unwittingly condemns the man to continued suffering. This act and the discovery that his mother has died from heartbreak lead Perceval to a hermit priest who listens to his confession and helps him to find insight and peace. Spirin's illustrations are glorious. Panels were painted in egg tempera on a large gessoed board, photographed individually, and reproduced on the appropriate pages. The tones are deep and jewel-like, the detail wonderful. The artwork is like a cross between the Très Riches Heures and Pre-Raphaelite paintings. Perkins's prose is likewise a hybrid of the straightforward and the original's lapidary telling. As such, character development is not emphasized, and Perceval remains more metaphor than man. Although there is a forward thrust to the plot, events seem disconnected. Still, readers who love tales of chivalry will find this one satisfying. A beautiful addition for collections where Howard Pyle's titles or James Riordan's Tales of King Arthur (Rand-McNally, 1982; o.p.) are popular.
—Ann WeltonCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.