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.
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