Saint John Don Bosco:

"Never read books you aren't sure about . . . even supposing that these bad books are very well written from a literary point of view. Let me ask you this: Would you drink something you knew was poisoned just because it was offered to you in a golden cup?"

To find more books by your favorite author, click on the author's name in the title...

Also, try searching by "historical fiction" if you're looking for novels at a certain time period...

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Wickit Chronicles by Joan Lennon

I discovered this neat-looking series at a Catholic Homeschool Conference at the Usborne vendor booth. In case you didn’t know, Usborne has acquired a new publisher so that they can expand into chapter books.

I wanted to like this book. The setting, a monastery, was appealing. The plot was cute. But in the end, I just couldn’t take to it.

Pip is an orphan who is cared for by the monks of a medieval monastery. One day while Pip is on the roof, a gargoyle comes alive, jumps in his hood, and befriends the lonely boy. Later in the book, they expose a plot to kill the king.

I’d like to see a monastery-based book capture the flavor of Catholicism and medieval piety instead of using it as a mere background device.

If you read the whole book including the question/answers at the back, in addition to some accurate medieval knowledge, you will also get the following:

High-placed churchmen as the villains (a tired caricature). The mention that people might think the main character engaged in witchcraft because of the gargoyle coming to life. The idea that the Church punishes witchcraft with consequences horrific to imagine. The idea that the Church of the Middle Ages “wasn’t all that far removed from pagan beliefs and practices.” Superstition was a huge part of everyone’s life, including monks’. The bad-guy Bishop's luxurious living is described. When he presides at mass in the Cathedral, his rich vestments are detailed, but it's intended to illustrate his corruption. There is no corresponding description of the religious symbolism of his mitre or robes. The King suggests offering Pip the Bishop's seat as a reward. He jokes about how he can "order everyone around."

I haven’t the time to wade through all the medieval times and perspectives on them. I’ll just say that as a Catholic, I found it uninspiring and a little disappointing. For example, when Pip shows up to sing in the choir at the cathedral, there is a mention of the fact that, you know, those boys aren't all angels. It is that kind of tone that just didn't resonate with me. All the beauty and effort of the cathedrals and monasteries get too little credit and there's just too much effort to emphasize the profane.

There are other books from this new endeavor of Usborne's that look more promising. I’ll review 2 more for mid-tweens (soon as I clear a couple Books on Deck)…

Safety Rating: 1 Flag


Post a Comment

regina was here

  © Blogger templates Psi by 2008