This is Pyle’s medieval tale of the wise and faithful Otto, son of a German warlord, a boy with a strong conscience who is taken captive by his father’s enemy. Caught up in a world of revenge, war, and battle, Otto endures through it to become a man revered for his wisdom and peace and his silver hand. Great, classic drama with Pyle’s matchless illustrations.
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
By the “Pearl Poet,” translated by J.R.R. Tolkien
OPD: late 14th century
This is a classic of Arthurian legend, an alliterative romance describing the challenge of a great green giant who arrives at King Arthur’s court to challenge any knight to cut off his head, as long as he can return the stroke a year and a day after. The bold Sir Gawain takes the challenge, but his courage is tested when the mysterious green giant simply stands up, picks up his head and reminds Gawain to report to him on the appointed day. In sparkling poetry with the rich backdrop of Arthurian legend, this tale follows the unfortunate Gawain through tests of his virtue, chastity, and courage. This was a favorite of Tolkien’s, and many editions have his translation of the 14th century text.
The Black Arrow
By Robert Louis Stevenson
Robert Louis Stevenson’s historical adventure novel about a brave boy on his way to knighthood during the War of the Roses. When a black arrow flies through a castle window with a note promising an arrow for four more of the castle residents, including Dick’s uncle, a mystery begins in which Dick begins to question his father’s mysterious death. Forced to escape after a confrontation with his uncle, Dick eventually encounters “The Black Arrow,” a mysterious outlaw. Great historical drama, classic portrayals of nobility and courage. The Scribner’s edition has illustrations by the matchless N.C. Wyeth.
The Book of the Dun Cow
By Walter Wangerin
This story took me by surprise. Here is an opening from Wangerin’s site: “At a time when the sun turned around the earth and animals could speak, Chauntecleer the Rooster ruled over a more or less peaceable kingdom. What the animals did not know was that they were Keepers of the Wyrm, monster of Evil long imprisoned beneath the earth. And Wyrm, sub terra, was breaking free…” I didn’t expect to be engrossed by a farmyard fable, or moved by the story of a slightly arrogant rooster who must learn to protect his people from evil, but I found this to be a powerful tale of humble, workaday hearts encountering evil and resisting its dominance. Fascinating. Excellent for discussion.
The Prince and the Pauper
By: Mark Twain
Twain’s classic tale of two boys, one a prince, one a beggar, who switch roles for a day… or a few more as it happens. Told with Twain’s usual wit and vivacity, the story follows the growth of the two boys as their minds expand with the exploration of their new worlds, teaching them how to better live, and rule, within their own.