The Making of a Knight
Patrick O'Brien, author & illustrator
Patrick O'Brien was raised a Navy "brat" and moved around a lot as a child, but now he calls Baltimore, Maryland, home. He grew up drawing and painting, but did not realize that he should be an illustrator until after he graduated from the University of Virginia with a degree in biology. He then attended art school at Virginia Commonwealth University and started a successful freelance career drawing storyboards for advertising agencies.
Read more about Patrick.
- Selected as Outstanding by Parent Council, Spring 1999
- Pennsylvania Young Reader's Choice Award (master list), 2000–2001
Gr. 3-6, younger for reading aloud. Set in medieval England, this lightly fictionalized account follows seven-year-old James from his family's manor to a nearby nobleman's castle, where the lad begins his journey toward knighthood. Studying reading, writing, music, manners, wrestling, archery, sword fighting, and horsemanship, James spends seven years as a page before becoming squire to a powerful knight. As he learns about subjects such as falconry and armor, jousting and battle, so will the reader. In the end, James becomes a knight, courts a lady, jousts in a tournament, and rides off to seek his fortune. Richly colored and dramatically lit oil paintings sensitively portray James as he grows from boy to man. Children interested in knighthood will find this a most appealing introduction to the subject. Although the lavish illustrations give this volume a picture-book look and make it accessible to younger children enchanted by knighthood, the reading level and presentation ensure that middle-grade students will also find it an intriguing, informative book on the subject. –Carolyn Phelan
School Library Journal
Readers follow young Sir James to knighthood in this informative picture book. He begins his journey at age seven as a page, working his way up to squire and, after proving himself brave in battle, a knight. Children step into the world of the 1400s, complete with kings, queens, ladies, castles, and silken flags flying. As the boy learns about serving the king, chivalry, weapons, and suiting up for battle, youngsters are treated to captionlike asides that add details on life in the Middle Ages. This book has it all: battles, lavish dinners, jousting, and even romance. It is generously illustrated with detailed oil paintings. O'Brien has done his research; the story and illustrations fittingly portray England of yore. One minor protest: female characters haven't much of a role in this book other than as romantic objects. Still, youngsters clamoring for tales of knights will be pleased to find this accessible volume and may be encouraged to do further reading. –Angela J. Reynolds, West Slope Community Library, Portland, OR
O'Brien (illus. of A Pirate's Life for Me!) travels back to the age of chivalry, tracing the gradual metamorphosis of an English boy from lowly seven-year-old page to 14-year-old squire to a knight at 21. Despite the workmanlike prose, the narrative form works well here to hold interest and provide cohesiveness to the many nuggets of information served up. Readers learn about tournaments, feasts, 15th-century manners and customs, and the training in archery, sword-fighting and horsemanship (as well as in reading, writing and music) typically required of an aspiring knight. O'Brien crafts an intriguing visual mix, alternating full-page oil paintings with smaller vignettes and captioned close-ups--of horses, weaponry, falcons and the like. The artist uses light and shadow to good advantage, creating high drama (e.g., shafts of sunlight stream through an unseen window onto the kneeling youth as he is knighted), and he invests the pages with a sense of movement, from banners and flags streaming in the wind to the dust kicked up by thundering hooves. A robust blend of pageantry, derring-do and a wee bit of romance. All ages. (July)
ISBN: 978-1-60734-326-4 PDF
Page count: 32
8 1/2 x 11