________________ CM . . . . Volume X Number 1 . . . . September 5, 2003


Sir Cassie to the Rescue.

Linda Smith. Illustrated by Karen Patkau.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2003.
32 pp., cloth, $19.95.
ISBN 1-55143-243-9.

Preschool-grade 4 / Ages 4-9.

Review by Mary Thomas.

**** /4

Reviewed from f&g’s.


Cassie read a story about knights.

An evil knight grabbed Lady Veronica. He locked her up in his castle.

Sir Thomas rode to the rescue. He slew the evil knight and freed Lady Veronica.

“Oh, thank you!” cried Lady Veronica. “You are a true, brave knight.”

Cassie closed the book. She thought for a minute. Then she went to find Trevor.

"Let's play knights," Cassie said.


And they did, building several successively larger castles with successively bigger and deeper moats, expanding the action to include baby Amanda, dog Towser, Mother, and lunch. Also included were a number of successfully resolved disagreements about the roles each was to play, with Cassie’s showing herself adept at keeping Trevor in the game, when, unsurprisingly, he refused to be the damsel in distress or to die in his alternative role as dragon (although he enjoyed the roaring). His "Then I won't play" was each time countered with an acceptable compromise in the best tradition of conflict resolution! Parents will be pleased that, after the luncheon feast, not only did the knights have to clean up, but they seem to have done so with no fuss although "it took them a long time."

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     I liked this book. What's more, the two “experts” I consulted did too, as did their mother. The concept could have been turned into a heavy handed moral tale of goody goody resolution of sibling squabbles, but instead it is a happy story of a fun morning of imaginative play. The pictures are bright and light hearted, if perhaps a bit confusing for younger readers, and I especially liked nice added touches such as the unremarked on hole in Trevor's sock. After they begin to be knights, however, their costumes and props are pictured as the children would see them in their imaginations, uncircumscribed by the limitations of dress up box, building blocks...or skill. Their helmets look like helmets, their horses like horses, and the castles are not a precarious arrangement of sofa cushions, but reasonably solid, with proper towers, turrets, and drawbridges.

     Books make wonderful launching pads for the imagination. When our children were young, I read them a book from the library about a bunch of bears who built a rocket ship to take them to the moon. As I recall, it was not a terribly good book, but it triggered an afternoon of cardboard boxes “blasting off” up the stairs and being lowered by means of ropes full of “samples” of soil and rocks. We all had a wonderful time, very much as Sir Cassie had with her book of knights. And when she and Trevor had finished cleaning up, she "thought for a moment. Then she picked up a book about pirates." Treasure indeed!

Highly Recommended.

Mary Thomas works in elementary school libraries in Winnipeg, MB, and, while her children are now adults, she has many great nieces and nephews, most of whom are keen on books.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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