HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Twelve Bright Trumpets
Author: Margaret Leighton
Civer Illustrator: Alexander Elkorek
Publisher: American Home School Publishing LLC, republished in 2004
Related website: www.ahsp.com (publisher)
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Reading level: Ages 10-13
Rating: 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Leighton, Margaret. Twelve Bright Trumpets (originally published in 1942 by Houghton Mifflin; republished in 2004 by American Home School Publishing LLC, P. O. Box 570, Cameron, MO 64429). Author Margaret Leighton has created twelve great historical fiction stories that span the Middle Ages beginning with the withdrawal of the Roman legions from Britain to the fall of Venice as Queen of the Sea. The young people in these tales participate in the dramatic events that have shaped Western Civilization. They include Gaius, a Celtic boy at the time of the union with the Angles and Saxons; Remy, the French boy who sang for Charlemagne; Cedric who helped Alfred fight the Danes; Astrid, a Viking girl who wants to go sailing with her father; Alix and Edith, two girls who went to school together during the days of William the Conqueror and worked on the Bayeux Tapestry; Denis, who went with his master to Jerusalem in the Crusades; Rohais, a young lady who protected her castle from an enemy following the death of her father when her brother was away in the Crusades; Geoffrey who lived at the time of Magna Carta;; Jacques, who escaped serfdom to become a free townsman; Marco, an egg deliverer who became apprentice to the sculptor Master Antonio; Karl, a copyist who became apprentice to Johan Gutenberg; and Camilla who lived in Venice when her brother sailed with Vasco da Gama.
In the Foreword, the author writes, “These are stories, not actual history. But although the youngsters who are the chief characters are imaginary and their adventures as individuals are fiction, the settings, the customs and ideas of the people pictured here are as true to the period as long and careful study could make them. The large events that are the backgrounds for the stories are now a part of our history. Moreover, whenever an historical figure does appear, like Vortigern or Charlemagne or Alfred, he is only doing what records tell us that he actually did do.” These stories will inspire courage, love, endurance, hope, industry and many other virtues. I especially like the way that Leighton emphasizes the role that Christianity played in the development of Western Culture. Even though it is an older book, Twelve Bright Trumpets has charm and is useful in giving children a glimpse of how young people have lived in the past by bringing them an understanding of the lives and adventures of boys and girls in the Middle Ages at different turning points in European history and providing fascinating sidelights on the various periods. The variety of stories is sure to please a wide group of kids. It is also a good tool to teach the general timeline of the Middle Ages. The book makes a great read-aloud for the K-6 set and is nice historical reading for older students.