Monday, March 30, 2015

A Master Illustrator and a Mother-Daughter Writing Team: Tenggren, Gelders-Sterne and King Arthur

King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table

Arthurian legend, the body of stories and romances based on King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, is also known as the matter of Britain.  A long list of creative works in every imaginable medium have been inspired by these stories, a few examples being Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising series,  Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, the musical Camelot by Lerner and Loewe, the list goes on and on, from literature to opera to film, television and even comic strips - remember Prince Valiant?

What with this wealth of creative output, it serves to have a base of knowledge of the original tales.  While Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur is a classic, it's safe to say that it's a bit of an intimidating read for the purpose of introduction.  As an alternative, consider the subject of today's post.

Book #5:  King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table (1962) illustrated by Gustaf Tenggren,  
retold by Emma Gelders-Sterne and Barbara Lindsay.  A Golden Illustrated Classic. 140 pages.

Gustaf Tenggren (1896 - 1970) was a Swedish-American artist, illustrator and animator.  He was amazing.  His best-selling illustrated book of all time was The Pokey Little Puppy (1942), another Golden Book.  Tenggren was a designer of numerous Disney films, including Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Bambi.  I first read King Arthur over thirty years ago, and while I did forget some of the stories, I never forgot the illustrations.  Tenggren doesn't bypass the gorier aspects of the stories - this was the man who designed the terrifying forest in Snow White - so a sword through the skull will produce blood.  Copious amounts.  You can check out his artwork at the link below:

Gustaf Tenggren's World

Emma Gelders Sterne (1894-1971) was born in Birmingham, Alabama an began writing at an early age.  She was active in women's suffrage and social welfare, and a member of the ACLU and the NAACP.  Many of her books focused on history and biography for children.  In addition to writing King Arthur with her daughter Barbara Lindsay, some of her other notable works included Amarantha Gay, M.D. (1933), Long, Black, Schooner: The Voyage of the Amistad (1953), and I Have a Dream (1965).

Emma Gelders Sterne from the Encyclopedia of Alabama

Beginning with the Sword in the Stone and ending with the death of Lancelot, King Arthur delivers the complete body of Arthurian lore in a highly readable and understandable manner.  The authors don't shy away from medieval terms and phrases, but care is taken to maintain the flow of the narrative, excellently supported by page after page of color illustrations.  Children's and YA fantasy is an extremely popular genre, and present and future readers could only benefit from reading this book, starting in the intermediate grades and up.

Originally published in 1962, the book was reissued with the original illustrations in 2002.

Question #5:

No inquiries so far for this week.  Anyone?

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