by Cheryl Carpinello
Muse It Up Publishing
2012 Ariana Ebook Cover Finalist
Back Cover: At Pembroke Castle in medieval Wales eleven-year-old Prince Gavin, thirteen-year-old orphan Philip, and fifteen-year-old blacksmith’s apprentice Bryan, brought together in friendship by the one they call The Wild Man, embark upon a quest to save The Wild Man’s life when he is accused of murder and robbery. If they have any hope of succeeding, the three will have to confront their fears and insecurities, and one of them will have to disclose the biggest secret of all. But it is the arrival of King Arthur and what he reveals that surprises characters and readers.
The King’s Ransom is an adventure kids ages eight to twelve will enjoy. Each of the three boys has a secret that could hinder their quest to save Wild Man. Each hope this journey will release the pain of their secret. It is difficult to give a complete synopsis without giving away what makes this story special. The boys each come from different social status in a society steeped in castes, yet because of King Wallace’s ruling style, no one questions the relationships. King Wallace rules with grace and compassion, tempered with a sense of fairness. The kingdom is happy and productive.
King Edward’s kingdom is just the opposite. Edward wants to rule over as much land as he can, only stopping his power grab because of King Arthur, who many believe is the true ruler of all of Britain. It is conceivable that King Edward would want the King’s Ransom, and the power that comes with it, but would Wild Man conspire with this ruler? During their quest, the boys find out information that makes them question Wild Man’s innocence, yet they honor their vow to help their friend. In addition to loyalty, the boys exhibit courage, cope with change, and show tolerance with each other and toward others.
Kids will enjoy the characters in this story. One is witch Seanna, who knows what the boys plan probably before they actually made them. She offers advice to each that is as strange as her reputation. The story has more layers than an onion and Ms. Carpinello does an expert job at revealing each one. Each boy’s inner conflict is well-defined and their individual journeys will help them grow and change by story’s end.
There are many twists and turns, some complete surprises, all completely satisfying. Because the story is told in 76 pages—eighteen short chapters—the action remains fast-paced. Just as things slow down, allowing you to breath, something happens to take it away. Each chapter flows seamlessly into the next, keeping you interested, and turning those pages. The King’s Ransom is a wonderful read for reluctant readers, especially boys.
The only negative point is an inconsistency in Bryan’s age, which could be a simple typo or a missed editing opportunity. It does not distract from the story, but did cause me to pause and re-read for clarity.
Ms. Carpinello has constructed a tale with every element today’s kids like, yet make them feel fresh and new. She has mastered medieval times and the legend of King Arthur, well researching every detail. Readers will have no choice but to learn many new details of medieval life. A teacher’s guide is available, deftly written by teacher Carpinello. She has enough material in the guide to make an in-depth study of the book and the legend of King Arthur and his court. There are comprehension questions broken down by chapters, discussion questions, project ideas, a word search puzzle, references, and a longer synopsis of The King’s Ransom.
With secret passages, villains, unexpected surprises, twists with big reveals, fast paced storytelling, and characters worth our time and loyalty, Ms. Carpinello has written an excellent take of medieval times and King Arthur and his court. Many times, King’s Ransom reminded me of a production of Robin Hood that had surprising details, authentic staging, vital characters, and a legend bigger than life. That describes King’s Ransom and like Robin Hood, Ms. Carpinello’s King’s Ransom will entertain the target audience of eight to twelve-year-olds, younger advanced readers, and older readers who love a great story, masterfully told.
by Cheryl Carpinello website blog Cover Designer: Kaytalin Platt website blog Muse It Up Publishing website Released on May 26, 2012 ISBN: 978-1-77127-056-4 76 pages Ages 8 to 12 copyright © 2012 by Muse It Up Publishing text: copyright © 2012 by Cheryl Carpinello
Available in paperback and digital editions