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August 6, 2012

New Books: King Arthur's Very Great Grandson

Our three-but-almost-four-year-old, Griffin, is showing some trends in the picture books he takes most interest in these days: adventure, and friendship. Kenneth Kraegel's King Arthur's Very Great Grandson hits the sweet spot, and has accordingly earned a place of honor next to Griff's bed over the last month.

The book's charmingly colorful illustrations tell the story of Henry Alfred Grummorson, who (much like Griff this week) is having a birthday: He's turning six. He also happens to be, as the title hints, the great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandson of King Arthur, and so he heads out on his trusty donkey for some suitable adventure.

Adventure, however, isn't cooperating on this day, for everyone seems to misunderstand his challenge to do battle: The dragon he encounters just wants to see who can blow the best smoke rings; the cyclops wants to have a staring contest, and the griffin (clearly another reason Griff loves this book!) suggests a game of chess.

At first Henry is, naturally, very frustrated about all this, and keeps marching off to find another fearsome creature who will accept his more martial challenge. Eventually, though, after an accidentally frightening encounter with the Leviathan of the deep (who just wants to be friends too, of course), he realizes he's been offered something much better by all of them, and at the end we see all of them puzzling over a chessboard together.

To be honest, I'm a little surprised that Griffin, who can be on the feisty side, and doubtless shared Henry's frustrations earlier in the book, has found the book's conclusion so satisfying.

But I'm not complaining.

[Cover image courtesy of Candlewick Press]


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