A warm welcome to American author Cheryl Carpinello who tells us about the inspiration behind her exciting prize-winning book for middle grade/tween readers: The King’s Ransom. First an introduction to the book. Further down you can read a little about Cheryl’s other tween book, Guinevere: on the Eve of Legend. I think most adults enjoy the Arthurian legends too!
The King’ Ransom
In medieval Wales, eleven-year-old Prince Gavin, thirteen-year-old orphan Philip, and fifteen-year-old blacksmith's apprentice Bryan are brought together in friendship by one they call the Wild Man. When an advisor to the king is killed and a jewelled medallion is stolen from the king’s treasury, the Wild Man is accused of the theft and murder.
Filled with disbelief at the arrest of the Wild Man, the three friends embark upon a knight’s quest to save their friend’s life. To succeed, the three must confront their fears and insecurities, and one of them will have to disclose the biggest secret of all. Together, they learn the value of Honor, Loyalty, and Friendship.
Inspiration Behind the Story
King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table never seem to lose their appeal to readers of all ages. When I talk about the medieval times with kids and adults, the talk centers around the exploits of the knights, heroes like King Arthur and Lancelot, and magic and Merlin. The stories of the knights with their quests, their jousts, their rescuing of the damsels in distress, and their fighting for the underdog dominate the conversation. Never mind that in real life knights weren’t always so gallant and frequently only defended the underdog if he belonged to the same or a higher social class. The Legend has outgrown and overshadowed any historical truth. And, because of this, kids of all ages are drawn to it and medieval times. One has only to look at the popular TV shows out there now like Merlin and The Game of Thrones to realize this.
The pieces of the Legend that I use in my stories involve adventure, magic and mystery, and heroes. The adventures of knights fighting knights, evil kings/queens/magicians, and dragons and other mythical characters appeals to kids. The infamous Quest presents characters and readers with exciting tales of righting wrongs and/or searching for magical life-saving objects. There is something about solving medieval mysteries involving magic that fuels young readers’ imagination. However, the desire to be a hero represents the ultimate goal of nearly all kids, and heroes abound in the Legend.
Arthurian Legend allows kids to experience a world in which a person is judged on who they are and on what they accomplish, not on outside expectations. In other words, the Legend gives readers a chance to be themselves.
Many thanks for such an inspiring piece, Cheryl!
I am a twice-retired high school English teacher. I’m afraid I’m one of those people who do not do retirement well. Working with kids is a passion I have never lost. I regularly conduct Medieval Writing Workshops for local elementary/middle schools and for the Colorado Girl Scouts. We explore writing and reading, and it is fulfilling to see young students excited about writing and reading. It seems I'm not the only one who loves Medieval Times and the King Arthur Legend. The kids thoroughly enjoy writing their own medieval stories complete with dragons, wizards, unicorns, and knights.
Guinevere: On the Eve of Legend was a Finalist in the 2011 Global eBook Awards for Pre-Teen Fiction. In it, readers are introduced to the Princess Guinevere who is struggling with growing up and taking on the responsibilities of an adult at age thirteen. The King’s Ransom (Young Knights of the Round Table) was the 2012 Silver Award Recipient for YA Fiction from Children’s Literary Classics and also earned the CLC’s Seal of Approval for Recommended Reading. The King’s Ransom was also named a Finalist in E-Book Children’s Fiction from USA 2012 Best Book Awards. In this story, three unlikely friends swear a knight’s oath of loyalty to one wrongly accused of murder which forces each to confront and conquer their fears or face humiliation and/or even death.
You can find out more about Cheryl on her blog.