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About the Author

Katherine Paterson was born in China in 1932 - she was the middle of five children. Her parents were missionaries and during her childhood the family travelled extensively. After graduating she was a teacher in Virginia and later she travelled to Japan where she lived for four years. She currently lives in Vermont, USA, with her husband John. The Patersons have four grown children, two of whom are adopted. She loves to teach, read and cook. Katherine Paterson is twice winner of the Newberry Medal- in 1978 for Bridge to Terabithia and in 1981 for Jacob I have Loved.


Gr 5 Up‘Paterson brings her considerable talent to this retelling of the story of Parzival (Parsifal, Percevel, etc.), the Grail Knight, working from Wolfram von Eschenbach's 13th-century epic poem. Nearly 800 years old, the story has freshness, humor, grace, and depth. In the spate of Arthurian adaptations for children, Parzival has been overlooked in favor of Merlin, Arthur, Lancelot, and Gawain. Furthermore, the story will be new to Wagner fans, as his Parsifal bears minimal resemblance to this one. Paterson's Parzival is the traditional fool, raised in the woods by his mother, sent out questing in rags on a swayback nag worthy of Don Quixote. In his bumbling progress, he goes through humiliation, trial, and much error, loss, and degradation to the brink of despair and loss of faith, before attaining the Grail. Paterson clarifies much of the Christian doctrine that is the basis of the story, but she is never dull or pedantic. As an additional help, she provides readers with a cast of characters, annotated, before beginning her story. Background notes appear at the end. The author's fans, who are myriad, will enjoy this book and look forward to those Grail stories, including that of Lohengrin, which Paterson hints may follow.‘Helen Gregory, Grosse Pointe Public Library, MI

"Nearly 800 years old, the story has freshness, humor, grace, and depth". -- School Library Journal, starred review

Paterson (Bridge to Terabithia) performs a service for young readers and for Wolfram von Eschenbach's 13th-century German epic with this supple adaptation. Parzival, born of royal blood but raised as a peasant, leaves his humble home as a boy to seek adventure. His nobility is immediately recognized in Arthur's court, where, despite his lack of gallantry, he wins the Red Knight's armor in a duel. Still a green youth, he stumbles from one adventure to another, learning lessons about chivalry, compassion and God's grace. During a quest to find the keeper of the Holy Grail and break a curse plaguing the mysterious "Wild Mountain," Parzival commits a nearly tragic error, but in his struggle to atone for his mistake, he sheds his childlike innocence and grows into a respected hero. The author judiciously trims all but the most essential branches from the legend, at the same time amplifying Wolfram's humor, irony and strong Christian message. Her economy of language propels the reader forward (e.g., when Parzival's mother explains God to him, "Why, Dear Boy, God is he who is King of Heaven. He has made the world and in his love took human form to save it"). For readers enamored of Karen Cushman's Catherine, Called Birdy or medieval-type fantasies, this fast-paced, highly accessible romance could easily prove a gateway to the literature of the Middle Ages. Ages 10-up. (Mar.)

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