Saturday, March 24, 2012

Book #84: The Princess Knight by Cornelia Funke, Illustrated by Kerstin Meyer

Image from BarnesandNoble.com

When Princess Violetta was born her mother died. Her father didn’t know what to do, so he raised Violetta just like her 3 older brothers. At first her brothers laughed at her because she was too small to lift a sword and fell off her horse. But Violetta was determined and every night she snuck out of the castle and practiced until she was better than her brothers. On her 16th birthday the king decides to hold a jousting tournament and the champion knight will win the princesses hand in marriage. When she can’t persuade her father to stop the tournament, Violetta disguises herself as Sir No-Name and wins the tournament herself. She chooses to find her own way in the world and many years later she finally decides to marry the rose gardener’s son and they lived happily ever after.

Meyer’s illustrations were inspired by the Bayeux Tapestry, which tells the story of William the Conqueror and Harold, Earl of West Essex in 1066. In addition, the illustrations and text are laid out in a variety of ways throughout the book, which helps to keep the readers attention as this story is a bit long. Despite the length, the text moves the story along quickly with lots of dialogue and action.

At the end of the story, we are told that Princess Violetta goes away for a year and a day. Ask the kids what they think she went and what she did during that time. This could also be a fun writing exercise if you have the time. Pull out a calendar and figure out how many days/weeks/months are in a year and a day. 

You can also use this story to talk about strengths and weaknesses. Violetta complains that she will never be as strong as her brothers, but her nursemaid, Emma, points out that she is smaller, quicker, and cleverer. Sometimes what we think are weaknesses are in fact our greatest strengths.

Pair this book with The Paper Bag Princess for a storytime about independent princesses.

-Amy

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