||Outskirts Press Inc.
||March 27, 2009
At the age of 12, Guinevere finds herself having to make the decision of a lifetime: Will she choose wisely?
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At the dawn of Camelot, one young girl is about to take her place beside the greatest king in England's history.
She is a mere child of twelve. But in these medieval days, this is the age when childish things must be put away and greater responsibilities accepted--all in preparation for a betrothal of marriage.
For young Lady Guinevere, on the advent of her thirteenth Birth Day, the whole idea is quite unbearable. After all, what could be better than spending her youth playing with her best friend Cedwyn, roaming the grounds around the castle looking for mythical creatures or hunting rabbits?
However, the wizard Merlyn--her teacher and friend--knows that destiny has a way of catching up with a person. His arrival sets in motion a series of events that will lead Guinevere to her destiny whether she is ready for it or not.
Guinevere stared into the shadows along the edge of the forest. She could hear Cedwyn shifting from foot to foot beside her, unable to stand still. She sighed, the bow made of sturdy pine in her hand growing heavier. Her thirteenth Birth Day was in a few days, but she wasn’t excited. Birth Days were supposed to be fun, but not this year. Not for her, not for a princess.
She frowned as Cedwyn adjusted the leather quiver of arrows on his back again. Sometimes, like today, her patience with the seven-year-old was short.
Guinevere stamped her boot on the ground. Her displeasure clearly showing on her lightly tanned face, she turned to him.
"Cedwyn," she snapped. "What is so important that you can’t be quiet?"
"I'm hungry, and the bottoms of my trousers are wet. Can’t we go back to the castle?" His face showed his confusion at her tone.
Guinevere realized that she should not have directed her anger at Cedwyn. It wasn’t his fault. Glancing down at her own clothes, she saw the bottom of her green ankle-length tunic wet with the morning dew. Her stomach chose that moment to issue forth with a small rumbling, but one that Cedwyn heard. He started giggling and then clamped his small hand over his mouth. But he was too late.
"How are we ever going to shoot a rabbit with all this noise?" Guinevere asked. Then she reached down and tousled his blond hair to let him know that she was not serious and as an apology for her crossness. "Let's try for just ten minutes longer. Then if we find nothing, we'll go back. Is that all right?"
Cedwyn shook his head, not wanting to make any further noise.
The English summer sun had barely reached above the far hills when they had first arrived at the edge of the forest. Now, it was well on its way in its climb toward the dinner hour, and they hadn't even had a proper breakfast yet. Cedwyn’s mum was sure to be upset that they had been gone so long.
"Come on," he whispered. "The only creatures we've seen moving have been badgers and Cornish hens. We could of had five bloody hens by now."
"I told you, it's good luck to bag a rabbit on the eve of your thirteenth Birth Day," Guinevere informed him.
Cedwyn studied her face, unsure if she was telling the truth or not. Then his blue eyes widened, and he grabbed her arm as she turned to continue hunting. "Wait a minute! You promised to help me bag a rabbit on the eve of my tenth Birth Day. You said that was lucky!"
Guinevere turned to him, her balled fists on her slim hips. "You need to listen closer when I talk to you. I explained the difference between boys and girls. Boys have to seek luck on the eve of their tenth and fifteenth Birth Days. Since girls are naturally luckier than boys, they only have to seek luck once, on the eve of their thirteenth Birth Days."
Cedwyn eyed her suspiciously, and then his eyes lit up.
“But I thought that the eve was the night before. Your Birth Day isn't until the day after tomorrow."
"That's true, but the eve of something can also be anytime close to the day."
"Are you sure?"
"Of course I am! Otherwise, what would happen if the day before I didn't get a rabbit? This way there are more chances to get one. Now, let's go. I'm sure I saw movement at the edge of the forest earlier." She didn’t mention to him that she needed lots of luck.
Cedwyn obediently followed her, mumbling to himself. "We're still running out of time."
They hadn’t gone far when Cedwyn thought of something else.
She turned suddenly, her long brown braid whipping about. "Shh! You will scare the rabbits away!"
"But you also promised to teach me how to hunt with a bow and arrow once you are thirteen."
"Yes, but if you don’t stop your chatter, I won’t. Do you understand?" Cedwyn nodded. "Then let's go."
Cedwyn followed, a smile highlighting his chubby cheeks. He then promptly ran into the back of Guinevere who had abruptly stopped.
"Wha..." A hand clamped down over his mouth followed by an angry "Shh!"
Cedwyn moved quietly up to her side, his seven-year old frame about half the size of Guinevere. She looked down at him, excitement making her brown eyes sparkle in the midmorning light. Her lips formed the word "Look." His blue eyes followed her outstretched arm.
There, just past the edge of the forest where the wild grasses grew--movement. He concentrated on the spot. Then the tall green stalks moved again, betraying the presence of something beneath.
"How can you tell if it's really a rabbit?" he asked softly.
"See how the stalks move forward a bit and then part?" Cedwyn nodded. "Well, the forward movement of the stalks is the rabbit testing out the goodness of the food. And then where the grasses part---that is---when the rabbit stops and starts feeding," Guinevere said, her pride in her knowledge showing. "Hand me an arrow." She held out her hand as Cedwyn pulled an arrow from the small leather quiver on his back.
Very carefully, her heart pounding, Guinevere nocked the arrow and steadily drew the bow string back. Taking a deep breath to steady her arms, she let the arrow loose. She watched the spin of the feathers as the arrow sped to its target.
Suddenly a horrendous cry filled the air. Guinevere and Cedwyn jumped into each other's arms. Then they knelt down on the ground and covered their ears as the shrill cry continued to make their ears ring.
"Wh...what is that?" Cedwyn whispered.
Guinevere shook her head in reply.
Then they heard a different sound. Something was crashing through the grasses and thickets. Slowly they inched their way up to peek above the grass. There, crashing and charging around the thickets, was the biggest wild boar they had ever seen.
Cedwyn looked at Guinevere. "Ain't that your arrow sticking in its side?"
She nodded, almost appearing disinterested, but really in shock that she had hit anything. For a few moments, they watched as the boar first ran in one direction and then another in what appeared to be a crazed pattern. But Guinevere recognized the pattern: the boar was searching for its hunters.
"Come on," she said, grabbing his hand. "We have to get out of here now!"
But then Cedwyn had his answer. The boar roared in anger. The ground trembled under their feet. Both he and Guinevere turned in the direction of the noise. The boar spotted them and barreled straight for them. It had found the culprits responsible for the arrow in its side.
"Run!" Guinevere said, no longer quiet.
Cedwyn needed no further urging. He took off with Guinevere close behind him. The thunderous crashing of the boar through the grasses and scrub brush vibrated through every part of their bodies.
Guinevere chanced a look behind her and realized that the boar was gaining on them. She glanced around. There off to the right was a tree that Cedwyn could climb to get up out of danger. He was the slower of them although they were each running faster than they ever had before. At the same time that Guinevere reached for Cedwyn's shoulder, she heard a thud, and her hand closed around nothing. Cedwyn cried out as he hit the ground after tripping over a root.
She reached down to help him up, but his foot was stuck solid. Seeing the boar thunder closer, Guinevere looked around. If she made enough noise, she could get the boar to follow her into the edge of the forest. That would give Cedwyn time to get loose and up the tree.
"I'll lead the boar into the forest. Get yourself free and then head for that tree." Cedwyn looked in the direction Guinevere pointed. "Get up in it as far as you can go and hang on until I let you know it’s safe to come down. All right?"
Cedwyn nodded, his blue eyes wide with fear.
"Stay down and be still until you hear from me. Then be quick!"
He nodded again.
Guinevere jumped up and shouted, "Halloo boar! Here I am. Come and get me!" She waved her arms, diverting the boar's attention to her. Once spotted, she turned and ran, stopping only to see if the boar was following. One look told her it was, and, if possible, it was coming faster. "Cedwyn! Now!" Guinevere shouted, and then she ran for the safety of the trees.
Behind her, the boar charged blindly toward her. Thundering through the grasses and scrub brush, it focused only on reaching the creature responsible for its pain. Behind them, Cedwyn frantically dug and pulled on the root to free his foot.
"Guin’ver! I can't get my foot loose!"
"You have to! Try harder! Pull harder!"
Cedwyn dug and pulled some more until he felt his foot start to loosen. When he finally pulled free, he stood up and looked around. He spotted the boar in the distance still charging after Guinevere. With the boar heading toward the forest, Cedwyn ran for the tree. Grabbing branches, he pulled himself up until he was too high for the boar to reach.
"I'm in the tree!" Cedwyn yelled. Guinevere waved her hand and continued running.
Once inside the trees, she had to stop to let her eyes adjust to the darkness. She waited, the sounds of the boar growing louder. Finally, she could just make out a faint trail running parallel to the forest edge. Off she ran down the path, her eyes looking for some place to hide so that the boar would run past her.
Up ahead she saw a pine tree. Finding the last bit of speed inside of her, she reached the tree and jumped. Her hands grasped a low branch, and she started to pull herself up.
Before she could get a good hold, the whole tree shook. Guinevere screamed and struggled to hold on. As she grabbed tighter, she realized that if the boar succeeded in shaking her down, she wouldn’t have her thirteenth Birth Day. She didn’t know which would be worse: the boar or turning thirteen.
Mother Daughter Book Review of Guinevere: On the Eve of Legend
What Daughter Says:
What it’s about: This book is about a girl named Guinevere who is about to turn 13 and then she has to decide if she will marry King Arthur. And she and her friend Cedwyn go on lots of adventures.
What I liked and disliked about it: I liked how, in the story, there was a twelve year girl playing with a seven year old boy because it shows that you can be friends with anyone and it doesn’t matter their gender or age. So, I liked the relationship between Guinevere and her friend Cedwyn and I liked how Cedwyn said “Guin’ver” – it was cute.
It was interesting to read how people in those times lived. It was weird that in medieval times, girls would get married so young. I wouldn’t want to get married so young [Mom: thank you, thank you, thank you!!].
I liked that there was magic in the book with Merlyn the wizard, the unicorns, and the dragon. I thought the story of the unicorns was sad because they have to die to save humans, but I understood (after my Mom explained it to me) that meeting the unicorn helped Guinevere decide that she has to meet her responsibilities as Lady of the kingdom and marry King Arthur.
I liked the pictures inside the book, but in some of the pictures she looks like she’s seven not twelve/thirteen.
I didn’t like that at the end in the section called “King Arthur Legend” it said that Merlyn was imprisoned by a lady named Nimue. It felt like a bad ending to the story and it made me sad.
My bottom line: I loved, loved this book and I would recommend it to girls and maybe boys 8 years and older.
What Mom Says:
What it’s about: We are introduced to young Guinevere of Arthurian legend, on the eve of her thirteenth birthday, when she is expected to take her rightful place as Lady of the kingdom. But the motherless Guinevere we meet is a spirited adventure-seeker and she feels conflicted about her new role and the expectations placed on her by her father, King Leodegrance, who has an even bigger surprise in store for her.
What I liked and disliked about it: While much of Arthurian legend focuses on the adult characters of King Arthur, Merlyn, Guinevere, Sir Lancelot, and the other knights of the round table, Cheryl Carpinello brings to life the story of Guinevere as a young girl prior to her role in the legendary love triangle involving herself, King Arthur, and Sir Lancelot. I love how Guinevere is depicted as strong and loyal yet contemplative. The reader is privy to Guinevere’s inner thoughts and turmoil concerning her decision to abandon her childish ways and embrace her responsibilities as daughter of a king and spokesperson and protector of her people. I thought she was an excellent role model for tween and teenage girls alike.
Carpinello introduces elements of legend and magic as a metaphor for the position that Guinevere finds herself in. When Guinevere follows a shadowy figure into the forest near the castle, she encounters a rarely sighted unicorn and learns of the purpose and fate of its kind. The plight of the unicorn, as well as the story of the red deer, touches Guinevere deeply and helps her to understand and accept her own destiny which was laid out for her at birth. Carpinello weaves these elements within the story so beautifully and lays the foundation for the lessons learned by Guinevere (and the reader!). That being said, some of these more complex nuances may be harder to grasp for younger children, although I think that younger children (like my son) would still enjoy the story.
At the end of the book, there are many “added” features such as a short Epilogue which ties this story to the more popular and well-known part of Arthurian legend occurring after the wedding of King Arthur and Guinevere. There is also a short Afterward which discusses written accounts of the Arthurian legend. Also useful in understanding terminology from medieval times is the glossary which provides definitions of words encountered in the text such as amphora (a two handled wine vessel), bratchet (a hunting dog), circlet (a type of small cake), and so on. There is also a section entitled King Arthur Legend which provides a succinct description of some of the highlights of King Arthur’s life. Finally, there are two sections Questions For Discussion and Enrichment and Additional Reading for those who want to explore the story and legend in more depth.
There are not very many illustrations. There are simple, pencil-drawn illustrations at the beginning of each chapter priming the reader for what will occur in the chapter. These were perfectly appropriate.
Of note, this is not the first middle grade book written about a young Guinevere. Robert D. San Souci has written a series of books centred on the lives of the main characters of Arthurian legend as youths including Young Guinevere, Young Merlin, Young Lancelot, and Young Arthur. Additionally, Jane Yolen has written some books focused on Merlin and King Arthur as youths. However, we have not read those so cannot really comment on how good those books are in comparison.
My bottom line: I read this story to both my children aloud. From Chapter 1 all the way through to the Discussion Questions, my children were captivated by the story. The story is a nice balance between action, elements of magic and fantasy, and important life lessons, all woven within the historical context of medieval times. This was an enjoyable and educational read and I would recommend Guinevere to tween girls and boys.
The Children's and Teens' Book Connection-Review by Fiona Ingram
The Arthurian legends have timeless appeal and Cheryl Carpinello’s book Guinevere: On the Eve of a Legend is no exception. As an educator dedicated to encouraging reluctant readers, and having taught the legends of Arthur to high school classes for nearly 20 years, the author knows her stuff and her love of the legend shines from every page. Although much has been written about Arthur both as boy and king, and books have been devoted to the adult Guinevere and her ill-fated marriage to Arthur, this book comes as a surprise by introducing Guinevere as a young girl. In fact, our heroine is truly on the eve of a legend as the book centers around Guinevere’s 13th Birth Day, the turning point for her, when she crosses over from being a child to a young woman. We find Guinevere in the opening pages having the time of her life. With her friend, seven-year-old Cedwyn, she spends most of her time playing, roaming the castle grounds and occasionally the forest, hunting for rabbits or mythical creatures. But life has plans for her, as Guinevere finds out, and life’s plans, a combination of what her father and the wizard Merlyn have decided for her, do not sit well with this fiery-tempered and independent young girl. Upon hearing she will be betrothed to the young brave King Arthur and then married to him on her fifteenth Birth Day, Guinevere decides to run away from home. She is not interested in being married and is even less interested in becoming a queen. Her attempt at fleeing is short-lived, partly because Cedwyn’s legs are too short to do much running, partly because foraging for food in the wilds loses its appeal very quickly, and partly because Guinevere realizes that she must eventually grow up and grasp her destiny with both hands. In this coming-of-age story, her friend and advisor Merlyn is there to guide and instruct her. With magicality, tenderness, and spinning a sense of enchantment, Merlyn uses the teachings of legends and the forest to illustrate the lessons one must face in life. In this way Guinevere realizes that if she enjoyed being a princess so much, it is just a small step to enjoying being a queen. She also understands how much her father loves her and that her happiness is all he desires. Besides, she still has two whole years to enjoy before having to really grow up.
Cheryl Carpinello’s take on the Arthurian theme is unique and enchanting. Her descriptions of everyday life, food, behavior, weapons, and attitudes of the early Middle Ages display a wealth of research. Information is subtly introduced to enhance the story and does not overpower the reader. Her descriptions are rich, palpable, and appropriate to whatever scene one reads. The moment when the children see the unicorns is one of poignant magicality. The scene with the brachet, the rabbit, King Pellinore, and the hapless Painted Dragon is roaringly funny! Cheryl Carpinello has created a book along the lines of The Once and Future King, with the same kind of appealing humor and dry wit in her Merlyn. She has included an interesting glossary for young readers to fully enjoy their understanding of an historical environment; as well as Q&A for educators, and a recommended reading list. I look forward to reading Cheryl’s next book Young Knights of the Round Table: The King’s Ransom.
JL Stees Reviews Guinevere: On the Eve of Legend
Guinevere was always part of the Arthurian legend, however much of the time the only mention of her was with Lancelot and their betrayal of Arthur. Recent books have been written about Guinevere in a more positive attitude and from her point of view.
Cheryl Carpinello brings Guinevere to a new generation of readers with this delightful book. She shows a young girl sharing adventures with her best friend, Cedwyn. As her thirteenth birthday approaches, young Guenivere is aware that her life will change whether she wishes it or not. Ms. Carpinello shows the introduction of Guinevere and King Arthur with gentleness. Merlin the Wizard advises Guinevere as she matures and eventually fulfills her destiny. Upon her marriage she becomes part of the great legend of Arthur and Guinevere.
This story is enjoyable and easy to read. It is interesting and filled with enough Arthurian legend to keep young readers entertained. The questions at the end are great for comprehension and give the readers a chance to discuss their own take on the story.
Overall, this is wonderfully written and filled with all the elements of a good story.
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Reader Reviews for "Guinevere: On The Eve Of Legend, 2011 Finalist Global EBook Awards"
|Reviewed by Wayne Walker
|What was Guinevere like before she married King Arthur? In this book for middle graders based on Arthurian legend, author Cheryl Carpinello gives us a picture of twelve-year-old Guinevere, daughter of King Leodegrance. Though a princess living in a castle, she prefers playing and hunting in the surrounding forests with her seven-year-old friend Cedwyn to studying about matters of state and learning how to be a lady. Then as her thirteenth birthday approaches, it is time for her to be betrothed. Her father has chosen young King Arthur to be her husband, but she angrily refuses and even tries to run away, so the wizard Merlyn is called in to teach her about her responsibilities. What important lessons will Guinevere learn? And what will finally she decide?
Guinevere: On the Eve of Legend is an interesting and well-written tale told in a way that will appeal to middle school aged readers, especially girls but boys too, who can relate to the idea of wanting independence yet struggling with the obligations that come with it. The euphemistic “darn it” is used a few times, and there are some references to drinking ale. But those who really like to read the Arthurian legends should enjoy this fun peek into Guinevere’s early life. In addition, it illustrates the important lesson that situations may arise in life when we must choose doing our duty rather than just doing what we want. A glossary, further information in the King Arthur legend, and some questions for discussion and enrichment in the back will increase the educational value of the book.
|Reviewed by Christina Leigh Pritchard
|Guinevere is a young princess who doesn't want to grow up. She wants to stay young for as long as possible but on her 13th birthday--she must become what she fears most and with that fear comes choices that would make any child of thirteen or thirty quake in their books.
If you like stories based on King Arthur and fantasies based upon wizards, creatures of myth and books with excellent vivid imagery then this book is for you. It is clean and suitable for children aged 10 to 12 and even enjoyable for those with a young heart.
I enjoyed this book very much and found it to be quite clever.