Review Blog

Jun 30 2008

Midsummer Knight by Gregory Rogers

cover image

Allen and Unwin, 2008
Bear slumbers in his boat upon the river, and when it bumps into the bank, he disembarks, exploring the forest beyond. Chased by some bees, after raiding their honey, he spies a door at the bottom of a large tree, and runs inside. At the end of the tunnel is another world, one where he is a tiny hatchling compared with the mushrooms, butterfly and mother bird nearby. The bird takes him on her back to another tree with a tiny door at its base, and entering this door, the bear finds he is in a castle, but one where bad things are happening. Thrown into the dungeon he spies the imprisoned king and queen and together they devise a way of escaping, then taking back the castle and restoring the monarchy to its rightful place.

All is told in a wordless graphic book of incredible detail. Bear, with his Cromwellian hat and little cape saves the day in rumbustious style, fighting all and sundry who attack him. The movement and colour on each page draws in the reader, entreating them to take a closer look at everything that is happening. From the Elizabethan king and queen, to the knights in shining armour, the Shakespearian look-a-like for the nasty usurper with his paunchy stomach and goatee beard, the court jester and all, each character is an individual, with his own characteristics and fighting manner.

It is a joy to watch all that is happening and then go back to the beginning taking a closer look at each individual character. A closer look also brings the eye to catch small details, otherwise missed; the fairy ring at the start and end of his adventure, implying perhaps a magical story, the wings on the characters in the forest, the windows in the tree trunks, the people like cushions of the royal couple. Children and adults will delight in this magical story of Bear's adventure one midsummer night, and take time to look and ponder all the allusions given by the artist.
Fran Knight

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