||Outskirts Press Inc.
||March 27, 2009
At the dawn of Camelot, one young girl is about to take her place beside the greatest king in England's history.
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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.
Midwest Review May 2009
Most people are familiar with the story of King Arthur, his Lady Guinevere, and her Knight Lancelot. What author Cheryl Carpinello has done in "Guinevere: On The Eve Of Legend" is spin a fascinating story of the child Guinevere who on the advent of her thirteenth birth day is being presented with the responsibilities of becoming betrothed in marriage. Having to give up playing with her friend Cedwyn, playing on the grounds of the castle, and engaging in the usual childhood pastimes and pursuits is something young Guinevere is loathed to do. But with the aide of her teacher and friend Merlyn the Wizard, Guinevere embarks upon her destiny whether she wants to or not! Also available in an ebook edition, "Guinevere: On The Eve Of Legend" is a deftly written and thoroughly entertaining story that will delight and engage young readers from beginning to end, making it a highly recommended addition to school and community library collections.
The stories of King Arthur and the knights of the round table are ones that we all know. However, we seldom think about the childhood of these famous characters. While we know all about Arthur and Merlin, what about Guinevere? She was his queen and his Achilles heel, it was her affaire with Lancelot that would destroy Camelot. She is vital to Arthur’s destiny, but only recently have authors begun to write about what her childhood was like. In Guinevere: On the Eve of a Legend, Cheryl Carpinello writes an enchanting story about an ordinary girl learning to be worthy of becoming the Queen of England.
The author is not simply a Camelot fan who decided to put pen to paper. Carpinello is an high school English teacher who has been teaching about King Arthur and his knights for almost twenty years. This a children’s book written not only to tell Guinevere’s story but to encourage reluctant readers to work on reading.
The story is about Guinevere’s thirteen Birth Day and even more important, her first meeting with King Arthur, the young man who would be King of all England. Guinevere is just an ordinary girl at heart. All she wants to do is run wild and free, hunting with her best friend, Cedwyn. Of course, her days of freedom are coming to an end. At the age of thirteen, a girl was expected to cast aside her childishness and learn the duties she must fulfill when she is a woman.
More was expected of young Guinevere than the average girl. Her mother is dead and once she is thirteen she must take her place as lady of the house. As mistress of her father’s castle, she must know about all the housekeeping tasks so she can instruct the servants in their duties. Also, her father and Merlyn, Arthur’s former tutor, have plans that will take her from her home to Camelot. Guinevere has her own plans and they often lead to misadventure and mayhem. Not a naughty child, she is determined to choose her own path, even if it disappoints her father, Merlyn, even the great King Arthur. Despite her stubbornness, she shows the bravery and courage she will need to become Arthur‘s queen. Something must happen or the destiny of Camelot will crumble. With Merlyn’s help and the girl’s own intelligence, she begins to understand there is more to life than having her own way. Perhaps it is a lesson some of the young readers of this book could learn as well.
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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.