Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Cheryl Carpinello and The World of King Arthur

I’ve read all Cheryl Carpinello’s books and have enjoyed them very much, particularly the Arthurian themed stories. I asked Cheryl what started her writing on Arthuriana.

Cheryl: I’ve always loved Arthurian Legend, but it wasn’t until I taught high school English that I learned the value of the Legend. I would have students that refused to read the literature I assigned. When we when to the library to get reading books, these students stood by the book shelves, thumbed through several books, and returned them to the shelf. When the unit on King Arthur begin, I started off by asking my students to share what they already knew about Arthur. My non-readers usually had their hands up first! Over the course of the unit (3-4 weeks), these students who didn’t read, scrambled to get their hands on stories, books, and movies before anyone else. The first year this happened I was stunned. After about the 4th year in a row, I realized I had discovered the figurative ‘sword in the stone that propelled these students to read. I loved it!

Book review of The King’s Ransom: When the King’s Ransom, a wondrous jewelled medallion, is stolen from Pembroke Castle in Wales, it is up to three young heroes to band together to solve this mystery and save a life. Prince Gavin (12), the youngest son of King Wallace and Queen Katherine, and his two friends, Philip (13), an orphan, and Bryan (15), a blacksmith’s apprentice, are an unlikely trio, uneven in terms of social status, but firm and loyal companions. Their friend, the Wild Man, is accused of murdering the king’s advisor and stealing the marvellous medallion, a symbol of absolute power and justice, but only in the right hands. Kings have enemies, and it soon becomes apparent that someone was after the medallion for the prestige it would bestow. Gavin, Bryan, and Philip race against time to find the medallion, reveal the true killer, and save the Wild Man’s life. They have only a few days before the arrival of King Arthur. If the medallion is not found, the Wild Man will be executed in front of Arthur. Can they overcome their fears and fulfil this momentous quest? Is it possible the Wild Man has tricked them all and simply used their friendship to get closer to the medallion?

What a delightful five-star story. I am familiar with Cheryl Carpinello’s writing from reading and reviewing her first Arthurian book, Guinevere: On the Eve of a Legend. Then I was entranced by the author’s spell-binding descriptions of life in Arthurian times and her meticulous attention to detail. Cheryl’s skills have remained as bright as ever with the unfolding of this fast-paced tale, threaded with mystery, adventure, a bit of magic, danger, darkness, and lovely twists in the end. I so enjoyed the factual information about weapons, clothing, daily life, and places, cleverly interspersed in the text and dialogue to inform without overwhelming young readers. The author has a gift for delving into the depths of each young hero’s psyche. The way each one of the trio faces their fears, learns to believe in themselves, and finds their true meaning and path in life is moving. This is a superb coming-of-age story, set in a time of chivalry and pageantry, and harking back to an age when a hero was truly a hero.
Fans will love that there is a FREE Study Guide to help expand their knowledge of King Arthur and his era. You can find out more about Cheryl’s books here.

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