Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Review of The Squire and the Scroll

In The Squire and the Scroll, author Jennie Bishop creates a parable meant to teach children the meaning of temptation and how to guard the heart from “all that is impure.” The author draws her story from Psalm 119:9 –

“How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word.”

After having read Bishop’s other book geared towards girls that I loved, The Princess and the Kiss, I was eager to read The Squire and the Scroll. The message of this book seemed more geared towards boys.

The Squire and the Scroll has many positive aspects. The illustrations are beautiful and the story contains all the elements necessary to keep the attention of a child: a dragon, knights, a spooky forest and a dark mysterious cave. Bishop weaves metaphors into the plot such as the lantern, (representing God) and the scroll (representing the Bible).

The premise is that a dragon has stolen the Lantern of Purest Light, and the kingdom is silent and dark. Many valorous men go to retrieve the light and fail because their hearts are not pure enough. A young, unknown squire saves the day because he follows the teachings of the scroll.

I thought this book was just perfect until I got to the end. (Forgive me for giving away plot this time, but I have to explain what I disliked about this book.) Although it was so refreshing to see a children’s book teach young men purity, the ending disturbed me. As a reward for bringing home the Lantern of Purest Light, the King GIVES the squire his only daughter, the princess.

“Because of his bravery and his devotion to the Lantern and to the scroll, he will have my daughter for a wife and rule my kingdom one day.”

So I liked this book very much up until the king treated his daughter like property. Sure, I get it that the squire is probably the most honorable man in the kingdom, and most likely the best suitable future king, but that ending still bothers me.

I would have liked the story better if the king permitted the squire to meet his daughter, and let her fall in love with his excellent qualities on her own. So, while this story does do a good job of creating a parable about what it means to be pure of heart, the ending implies the idea that women are property.

Luckily, the princess is very happy, since she “had devoted herself to the words of the scroll as well.”

Quite honestly, this detail really disappointed me, and I wish the end was worded differently. To some my beef with this book might seem frivolous, but a few generations back women were treated like property in our society, and that was wrong. We can’t forget that. If a book is meant to teach a child morals, then it should be held to a very high standard.

I wrote this review of The Squire and the Scroll for the Tiber River Blogger Review Program, created by Aquinas and More Catholic Goods, your source for First Communion Gifts. You can purchase this book here. For more information, please visit Aquinas and More Catholic Goods. Tiber River is the first Catholic book review site, started in 2000 to help you make informed decisions about Catholic book purchases.


Putz said...

i have a question that i worry about all the time>>>at the present there is nothing to worry about but in the futurez???????this is it, daniel is 31 years old and he doesen't date, but if he weren't schitzophrenic, he says he would love to have a big family>>>i feel so sorry for his condition>>>he would be such a great father and husband, although i don't know if he could support a home, all of that>>>so my worry is his morality>>>>you know keeping hisself pure without going nuts>>>>this is probably something i should not bring up, but none of his counselers talk about it, and yet i wonder what the sloutions are?????any insight????

Loren Christie said...

Oh wow Mr. Putz, I'm a nobody when it comes to advice. Well, If Daniel is able to marry, and finds someone he wants to commit to in marriage, then he should. His wife would help him in supporting a family; traditional roles have evolved. Personally I don't promote premarital sex for anyone, and I think it is detrimental to romantic relationships because it creates a false bond outside the sense of respect and financial safety net that comes with a marriage commitment. Daniel's case is a hard one because although he is an adult, his health issue prevents him from dealing with relationships the way other people do. Social relationships might be much harder for him. I know you have a deep faith in God. So I think you should try to influence him to respect women. Advise him to seek out women who love God and respect themselves. If he makes a relationship choice that you don't agree with, don't be too hard on him. Love him no matter what. It is my belief that God loves people unconditionally. Thanks for asking me such an important question!

Putz said...

of course i believe in the purity of men young or old, that is what your blog is all about, isn't it???? that is what got me worrying, but if he ever gets to dating, i willl continue with the advice(yours and mine}

Loren Christie said...

You seem like a caring, good father, Mr. Putz.

Elizabeth Kathryn Gerold-Miller said...

This sounds like a pretty good book and I love that you pointed out that important detail about the ending. Young princes nowadays have to win the hearts of their princesses as well.

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