Sunday, April 3, 2016
Reading Through History: The Sword in the Tree by Clyde Robert Bulla (1956)
Kids love knights and castles and swords, but few first and second graders are ready to read longer, more complex King Arthur stories. This book makes it possible for them to enjoy the subject matter on their own level, but without sacrificing any of the suspense or excitement. The plot of this book is well-structured, unpredictable, and very satisfying. The characters, though not described in very much detail, come to life through their words and actions, and of course, the presence of King Arthur himself is a key part of the book's appeal. There is also a strong sense of right and wrong in the story, which I appreciate as a parent, and enough happiness in the ending to please sensitive readers who might be otherwise troubled by some of the story's events.
There are not enough well-written historical fiction or adventure stories for beginning readers. Though this one is old enough to have been enjoyed by many children's grandparents, it holds up so well that there is no reason libraries should not have it on their shelves today. Compared with contemporary offerings like the Kingdom of Wrenly series and Magic Tree House, this book is less predictable, more exciting, and better written. Very highly recommended.