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Parzival: The Quest of the Grail Knight.

by Katherine Paterson

Published by Lodestar / Dutton, 1998
127 pages
ISBN: 0-525-67579-5

Ages 9 - 13

"In the ancient days, when Arthur was a king of Britain, there lived a boy who had never heard of the great son of Pendragon or of his bold knights. The only home the boy had ever known was a cottage in the wilderness of Soltane, and the only parent he had ever known was his mother. He was never called by his proper name; indeed, he didn't even know that he had one." So begins Paterson's briskly paced retelling of an 800-year-old legend about the Grail Knight who, as a lad innocent of his true station, set forth to find the symbol of hope and eternal life. An annotated cast of characters titled "The People" precedes the adaptation in this handsomely designed, 7 x 4 1/4" volume numbering only 127 pages. The Parzival legend is a perfect vehicle for Paterson, because she flawlessly incorporates powerful characterizations, cleverly developed humor, and snappy dialogue within her fiction and she understands how to incorporate a Christian subtext without imposing doctrine. This legend is not new to Paterson's published works -- it's central to her contemporary novel, Park's Quest (HarperCollins, 1989), which is filled with references to it. In both Park's Quest and Parzival, Paterson's naive hero sets forth, bumbling past various obstacles and figuring out for himself how to name the answer that will end his pilgrimage. Because of Paterson's Parzival, fans of Park's Quest can return to that novel to discover other meanings. Young medievalists will enjoy this compressed version of a tale inspired by a 25,000-line epic poem, for which Paterson provides a brief background. Katherine Paterson is the 1998 recipient of the Hans Christian Andersen Award given by the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY). Parzival is a marvelous new addition to the marvelous body of work for which this accomplished author has been formally acknowledged in many other ways, as well. CCBC categories: Folklore, Mythology and Traditional Literature; New Editions of Old Favorites. (GMK; April 27)  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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