Written in high-toned but not ornately formal language, this abridged rendition of a 13th-century, pre-Galahad Arthurian legend highlights the Grail Knight's spiritual growth. Having had all knowledge of his family, the world at large, even his name, kept from him since birth, Parzival sets out for King Arthur's court a complete innocent. Several ritualistic knightly adventures later, taking some bad advice not to seem foolish by asking questions, he sees the Grail, but by remaining silent, leaves its keeper Anfortas with a wound that will not heal. Condemned by all for his inaction, Parzival angrily blames God for allowing so much misfortune. Although fond of jousting, Parzival nearly always spares his opponents' lives, and the tally of his deeds is illuminated both by flashes of humorhe's forever having to wash off the rust when he doffs his armorand the exotic names of those he encounters, from his wife Condwiramurs to his half-Moorish half-brother Feirefiz. After years of searching, Parzival repents with the help of a holy hermit, and not only finds the Grail again, but becomes its keeper. Paterson never explains the Grail's origin, which has the effect, for readers who don't already know, of making it a less specifically Christian talisman; she analyzes the story's metaphorical underpinnings, discusses her rendition, and introduces the author, Wolfram von Eschenbach, in a closing note. (Fiction/folklore. 12+)

Pub Date: March 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-525-67579-5

Page Count: 111

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1998

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Dahl (The Umbrella Man and Other Stories, 1998, etc.) weaves the story of the treasure and greed that unearthed the richest collection of Roman silver plate ever found in British soil. When Dahl was a young writer selling stories to magazines, he read a newspaper article about a find of Roman silver in a small town. The story so interested him that he traveled to the town and interviewed the ploughman who found it. This is a slightly edited republication of that story with new illustrations. On a cold, windy winter’s day, George Butcher, hired to plow a field, struck a hard object that turned out to be one of 36 encrusted pieces of Roman silver. Ignorant of their worth, Butcher allowed Ford, an amateur archaeologist, to keep them. Knowing that he should report the treasure to the government and that a reward for the find should go to Butcher, Ford polished and hid everything. Four years later, a visiting archaeologist noticed two silver spoons on the mantle and the story came out. Claiming that he thought the artifacts were pewter, not silver, which under British law belongs to the government, Ford relinquished the pieces. The government awarded both men 1,000 pounds. If Ford had told Butcher about the treasure’s worth immediately, Butcher’s reward would have been at least a half-million pounds, and Ford would have received nothing. Steadman’s dark, often grotesque and mysterious figures create a moody accompaniment to this strange tale with an ironic ending. A fascinating story. (Nonfiction. 12+ )

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-375-81035-8

Page Count: 84

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2000

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Readers follow a fourth grade Amish girl named Anna through the four seasons in a gentle tale from Ammon (An Amish Christmas, 1996, not reviewed). Perhaps in the spirit of Amish culture, the book does not engage reader through flashy illustrations or a kitschy plot. Instead, it offers a sense of serene assurance that arises from this community that is attempting to live according to its set of beliefs. Anna’s life, as with all Amish, revolves around the seasons, home, and farm. Hard work, milking the cows, tending the vegetable garden, and school take up most of her time, but that does not preclude fun; there is a time and place for everything in her life, including play when the work is done. Like the “English” (non-Amish), Anna and her friends enjoy softball, volleyball, flying kites, sledding, etc. Ammon makes Anna approachable, subtly revealing the similarities between her life and readers’ while illuminating the fundamentals of Amish culture. The well-researched, luminous illustrations resonate with the beauty of this life and are an integral part of the book. For a hurly-burly society, the notion of families gathering and caring for one another in an extended network of aunts, uncles, and cousins is inviting and accessible. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-689-82622-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1999

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